In the first post of this series, I talked about how Warrior I is the ultimate pose to activate the muladhara (root) chakra, establish a grounded footing and presence, and tackle fear. Now, we move onto one of my favorites, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon) pose. As I wind down my personal practice, or begin to cool down my students, I almost always include pigeon.
Pigeon is one of the most often requested poses when I ask my class if there’s anything in particular they want to include for the day. Primarily a hip and chest opener, pigeon assists in releasing the tension we hold in the pelvis and hips.
Whether sitting at a desk all day or as a measure of bottling up emotions, sinking into pigeon pose enables an opening. In fact, the next time you are in pigeon, notice what emotions arise. Do you become irritated, frustrated or sad? Do you resist and clench the abductor muscles of the outer hip? Or, do you melt, relinquishing the stress of the day?
Physically, pigeon stretches the muscles of the thigh, groin, abdomen, chest and shoulders. The psoas, TFL, and IT band benefit particularly. Stretching the quads in the full expression of the pose help alleviate stress on the knees.
Subtlely, pigeon is connected to both the second (svadhishthana) and fourth (anahata) chakras. The second chakra is located at the sacrum or pelvic basin, and is the seat of our emotions, pleasure and sexuality. The fourth or heart chakra is where we cultivate love, compassion, and self-acceptance.
If pigeon makes you puff up your feathers, you have a healthy acceptance of your right to feel pleasure. You may also crave the emotional release that pigeon so readily facilitates. With the front and back chest opening of this pose, you are loving and compassionate.
Extremely tight hips or thighs may be a physical reason you resist pigeon, indicating the need to embrace the pose. For the chakras, pigeon can help you cultivate balance and empathy as well as release any bottled up resistance you have to acknowledging that you are a worthy and capable of pleasure and feeling. Caution: if you have low back, SI issues, knee or ankle injury, you can modify by taking reclined pigeon on your back.
“To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
– Your Charmed Yogi