Kapotasana, also known as Pigeon Pose, is a popular asana in the practice of yoga. This asana is named after the Sanskrit word “kapota,” which means pigeon, and “asana,” which means pose. It is a deep backbend that is known to help open the chest and shoulders, while also stretching the thighs and hip flexors. It is an intermediate to advanced level pose that requires strength, flexibility, and proper alignment.
Meaning of Kapotasana and Where it Came From
Kapotasana has its roots in Hatha yoga and is mentioned in various texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita. It is believed to have originated in India, where it was practiced by yogis to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
When To Practice Kapotasana
Kapotasana is a challenging pose that requires a certain level of flexibility and strength. It is recommended to practice this asana after warming up the body with some basic yoga poses. It is best to practice Kapotasana in the morning on an empty stomach, or in the evening after a gap of 4-6 hours after eating.
Step by Step Guide How to Do Kapotasana
- Begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your toes pointing back.
- Slide your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist. Your right ankle should be in front of your left hip.
- Stretch your left leg back, keeping your knee and the top of your foot on the floor.
- Align your right heel with your left hip, and slide your left leg back, straightening your knee and keeping your toes pointed.
- Inhale and lift your chest, keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears.
- Exhale and slowly lower your torso down towards the floor, resting your forearms on the floor in front of you.
- Rest your forehead on the floor and hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
- To release the pose, inhale and lift your chest, and exhale as you come back to the starting position. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Some common mistakes that people make while practicing Kapotasana are rounding the lower back, collapsing the chest, and tensing the shoulders. It is important to maintain proper alignment and not overstrain the body in this pose. One should also avoid holding their breath while in the pose.
Suggested Preparatory Asanas
Some suggested preparatory asanas before Kapotasana are Pawanmuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), and Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose). These poses help to warm up the body and improve flexibility in the back and hips.
Suggested Follow-Up Asanas
Some suggested follow-up asanas after Kapotasana are Balasana (Child’s Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), and Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose). These poses help to release any tension in the body and bring it back to a neutral position.
Pro Tips for Beginners
For beginners, it is recommended to use props such as blankets or blocks to support the hips and to ease into the pose gradually. One should also focus on maintaining proper alignment and not forcing the body beyond its limits.
Contraindications (Who Should Avoid)
Kapotasana should be avoided by individuals with knee, hip, or lower back injuries. Pregnant women should also avoid this pose, and those with high blood pressure or heart problems should practice this pose under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
Modifications & Variations in Kapotasana
One modification of Kapotasana is to place a block or cushion under the hips to support the body. Another variation is to place the forearms on the floor instead of the hands, or to place the hands on blocks for support. For those who find it difficult to lift their chest off the floor, they can practice the pose with their head lifted and the forehead resting on a block or cushion.
It is important to approach Kapotasana with caution and not overexert the body. One should also avoid this pose if they experience any pain or discomfort. It is important to listen to the body and not push beyond its limits.
20 Health Benefits of Kapotasana
- Improves flexibility in the hips and thighs: Kapotasana stretches the hip flexors and thighs, improving flexibility in these areas.
- Strengthens the back and core muscles: The pose strengthens the muscles of the back and core, improving posture and reducing back pain.
- Stimulates the digestive system: Kapotasana can help to stimulate digestion and relieve constipation.
- Improves posture: The pose improves posture by opening the chest and shoulders and strengthening the back muscles.
- Alleviates tension in the upper body: Kapotasana can help to alleviate tension in the upper body, including the neck and shoulders.
- Opens the chest and shoulders: The pose opens the chest and shoulders, improving breathing and posture.
- Promotes relaxation and reduces stress: Kapotasana can promote relaxation and reduce stress by calming the mind and body.
- Improves circulation: The pose can improve circulation by opening the chest and stimulating blood flow.
- Enhances lung capacity: Kapotasana can help to improve lung capacity by opening the chest and improving breathing.
- Alleviates sciatica pain: The pose can help to alleviate sciatica pain by stretching the hips and thighs.
- Increases hip mobility: Kapotasana can increase hip mobility by stretching the hip flexors and thighs.
- Reduces anxiety and depression: The pose can reduce anxiety and depression by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
- Improves concentration and focus: Kapotasana can improve concentration and focus by calming the mind and reducing distractions.
- Relieves tension in the lower back: The pose can relieve tension in the lower back by stretching the hips and thighs.
- Increases energy levels: Kapotasana can increase energy levels by improving circulation and stimulating the body.
- Improves digestion: The pose can improve digestion by stimulating the digestive system and relieving constipation.
- Opens the heart chakra: The pose can open the heart chakra, promoting emotional balance and harmony.
- Reduces menstrual cramps: Kapotasana can help to reduce menstrual cramps by stretching the hips and thighs.
- Improves overall flexibility: The pose can improve overall flexibility by stretching the hips, thighs, and chest.
- Can be therapeutic for asthma: Kapotasana can be therapeutic for asthma by improving lung capacity and breathing.
FAQ About Kapotasana
Q: What is Kapotasana?
A: Kapotasana, also known as Pigeon Pose, is a yoga asana that involves stretching the hips, thighs, and chest.
Q: Is Kapotasana suitable for beginners?
A: Kapotasana can be challenging for beginners, but with proper guidance and modifications, it can be practiced by anyone.
Q: What are the benefits of Kapotasana?
A: Kapotasana offers numerous health benefits, including improved flexibility, strengthened back and core muscles, improved digestion, and reduced stress.
Q: How do I prepare for Kapotasana?
A: It is recommended to warm up the body with preparatory asanas such as Downward Facing Dog, Cat-Cow Pose, and Cobra Pose.
Q: What are the common mistakes to avoid in Kapotasana?
A: Common mistakes to avoid include overstretching the hip flexors, collapsing the chest, and rounding the shoulders.
Q: What are the follow-up asanas after Kapotasana?
A: Follow-up asanas can include Child’s Pose, Corpse Pose, and any other gentle stretches.
Q: Can Kapotasana be modified for beginners?
A: Yes, beginners can modify the pose by using props such as blankets or blocks under the hips or thighs.
Q: How long should I hold Kapotasana?
A: The pose can be held for 30 seconds to a minute on each side.
Q: What are the contraindications for Kapotasana?
A: Contraindications can include knee or hip injuries, lower back pain, or sciatica.
Q: How can I modify Kapotasana if I have knee pain?
A: If you have knee pain, you can modify the pose by placing a cushion or blanket under the knee.
Q: Can Kapotasana help with back pain?
A: Yes, Kapotasana can help to relieve back pain by strengthening the back muscles and improving posture.
Q: Can Kapotasana be practiced during pregnancy?
A: Kapotasana should be avoided during pregnancy unless practiced under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
Q: What should I do if I feel discomfort or pain in Kapotasana?
A: If you feel discomfort or pain, you should come out of the pose and modify it or seek guidance from a qualified yoga teacher.
Q: How often should I practice Kapotasana?
A: It is recommended to practice Kapotasana 2-3 times per week, or as often as your body feels comfortable.
Q: What are the variations of Kapotasana?
A: Variations can include using props such as blocks or straps, or practicing the pose in a reclined or standing position.
Q: Can Kapotasana help with anxiety?
A: Yes, Kapotasana can help to reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
Q: What are the preparatory asanas for Kapotasana?
A: Preparatory asanas can include Downward Facing Dog, Cat-Cow Pose, and Cobra Pose.
Q: Can Kapotasana be practiced by seniors?
A: Yes, Kapotasana can be practiced by seniors with modifications and under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
Q: What are the precautions to take while practicing Kapotasana?
A: Precautions include avoiding overstretching, practicing with proper alignment, and modifying the pose as needed.
Q: Can Kapotasana be practiced by people with high blood pressure?
A: Kapotasana should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, or practiced only under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
In conclusion, Kapotasana is a challenging yet beneficial asana that can improve flexibility, strength, and overall wellbeing. It is important to approach this pose with caution, to listen to the body, and to seek the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.