One-Legged King Pigeon Pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Woman practicing full pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana)
Darko Veselinovic / Getty Images

Type of pose: Hip opener, Backbend

Benefits: Stretches the quads, hips, and back. Opens the chest and shoulders.

Full pigeon is a prime example of what we mean when a pose is described as advanced. As is typical, its full expression requires a combination of flexibility and strength throughout the body. To do this pose, you must have exceptional flexibility in the hips, shoulders, and back. Some people have this combination naturally, but most have to practice for many years to get there.

The path to full pigeon is laid out pretty clearly. It starts with the most commonly practiced version, pigeon prep, and progresses through mermaid pose. There are a number of different ways to approach getting into the full pose. The following method works well for many people.


1. From pigeon prep, bend your left knee so that your foot points up the the ceiling

2. Reach across the front of your body with your right hand. Take hold of your left toes with your right hand. Pull your toes toward your body.

3. While keeping hold of the left toes with the right hand, reach your left arm straight up. 

4. Bend your left elbow and reach behind your back to grab your left toes with your left hand as your elbow stays pointing up.

5. Release your grip on your toes with the right hand.

6. Turn your chest toward the front of your mat.

7. Reach your right arm straight up. Bend the right elbow and reach behind your back for your left toes.

The right elbow points toward the ceiling.

8. Let your head drop back until the sole of the foot is close to or touching the top of the head.


If you are ready for this pose in the hips and back but not the shoulders, you can use a strap around your back foot instead of grabbing it with your hands.

Make a loop in the strap and put the loop around your foot. Hold the long end of the strap with both hand and work your hands down toward your foot as much as possible.

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