By Yoga Journal
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) engages multiple muscles that constantly contract, like the hip flexor and groin muscles. Mastering this deep hip opener and backbend can help stretch these areas and release tension. Use the following five poses from teacher Chelsea Jackson to warm up safely for One-Legged King Pigeon.
Seated Forward Bend
Warm up by starting in a seated position and extending your legs while flexing the feet. Inhale to extend through your spine while externally rotating your shoulders. Exhale to ground deeply into your hips. On an inhalation, extend your arms toward the sky. On an exhalation, bow forward with a long spine, reaching for your feet, or placing your hands on the ground next to the outer edge of your legs. As you hold the pose, breathe for at least 8-10 rounds. If you can move deeper into the forward fold, try placing your hands on the outer edge of the feet, or wrapping your big toes with the index and middle fingers. Each time you inhale, give the chest, lungs, and rib cage permission to expand. Each time you exhale, try to find a place of surrender.
Bound Angle Pose with Forward Fold
This pose helps release constriction in the lower back while freeing your hips. Begin sitting and bring the soles of your feet together. Draw your heels in toward your body. Place your fists or fingertips behind the hips. Lift your hips off the ground, sitting erect with your spine extended and chest expanded. On an exhalation, reach your fingertips forward and hing forward at the hips. Press your knees toward the floor. Keep the spine long as you take 8-10 breaths.
The Fire Log Pose, sometimes called Ankle-to-Knee Pose and Dhuni Pose, is named after the sacred fire pits of India. It is a variation of Easy Pose (Sukhasana) and an excellent prelude to One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. The legs form the shape of the dhuni, or fire pit. The pose opens your inner and outer thighs, knees, and ankles and creates a deep external rotation in your hips. Begin sitting in Easy Pose. Stack your right knee on top of your left ankle and your left ankle on top of your right knee. The lower legs make a straight line in front of your body, parallel to your torso. Sit tall on your sitting bones as you lift the abdomen. Inhale to externally rotate your shoulders and press your knees toward the ground without using the force of your hands. Place your hands onto the soles of your feet as you take 8-10 breaths. Then switch sides by placing the opposite leg on top, realigning the ankles and knees.
About Chelsea Jackson
Chelsea Jackson, PhD, has a 200-hour hatha yoga training from Kashi Atlanta Urban Yoga Ashram. Jackson is also certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga to children, and earned her PhD from the Division of Educational Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She founded chelsealovesyoga.com, a platform for discussion on yoga, race, and diversity; is a member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition; and created the Yoga, Literature & Art Camp for teen girls.