Eka pada rajakapotanasana ‘one-legged king pigeon pose’ is a deep hip-opening and back-bending pose that takes time and consistency of practice to move deeper into.
Begin by coming to a table-top position on all fours, hands aligned under the shoulders and knees aligned under the hips.
Slide your right knee towards the right arm, bringing the right foot in front of the left knee, and very slowly beginning to stretch the left leg back. Neutral pelvic alignment is key here – make sure your hips are straight, or you run the risk of pinching or tearing a very painful ligament in the hip area, especially if you twist the hip at all moving in or out of the position. I’ve done it.
Inhale and stretch your torso up, relaxing through the pelvis and hips and lowering the perineum onto the ground. Use a block here for support if necessary. For some, you may have to work on this step for a long time before moving further – I was here for six months before I could lift my back leg comfortably.
When you’re ready, inhale and raise the left leg. Ideally you should be able to grasp the foot from above with one or both hands. You can use a strap to help walk the arms down.
Exhale, lower the leg, and stretch the torso out on the right leg, really releasing the hip muscles and feeling the opening sensation through the right hip (pictured below). This may be painful to some at first. Relax and breathe through it as much as you can.
Inhale and raise the torso, lifting the back left leg again. See if you can go a bit farther with both the leg and the arms this second time around.
To come out of the pose, lower the back leg, plant the arms on the ground, and slowly come up onto your left knee keeping your hips and pelvis straight, and slowly slide the right leg back to its starting tabletop position.
Repeat on the left side of the body.
This pose opens the shoulders, lungs, and chest, and gives a very deep stretch to the groin, psoas, and thighs. It stimulates the abdominal organs and can be useful in managing and alleviating reproductive issues and disorders.
Exercise a lot of caution if you have sustained any injuries to the knees, ankles, hips, or sacroilliac region of the spine. Do not practice if there is any extreme pain. Consult a professional on how to heal and prepare the body for eventually expressing this pose.