Supta Kapotasana (Reclining Pigeon Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Supta Kapotasana (Reclining Pigeon Pose) - SharpMuscle
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Supta Kapotasana, also known as Reclining Pigeon Pose, stretches the hamstrings, quads, hips, specifically the hip flexors, outer hips, and glutes, while strengthening the muscles in the hip and lower back regions.

Information

Known as:Supta Kapotasana, Reclining Pigeon Pose, Sucirandhrasana, Supine Pigeon Pose, Thread the Needle Pose, Reverse Pigeon Pose, Eye of the Needle Pose
Sanskrit name:सुप्त कपोतासना
IAST:supta kapotāsanā
Pronunciation:soop-tah kah-poh-tah-suh-nuh
Type:Hip-opening or hip stretch, stretch
Level:Beginner to intermediate
Focus:Hips, hip flexors, outer hips, glutes
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Towards the ceiling or sky
Chakra:Svadhisthana (sacral) Chakra
Indications:Hip flexors, outer hips, hip joints, glutes, hamstrings, lower back pain, stress, anxiety, relaxation, rejuvenation, tranquility, circulation, pelvic region
Counterposes:Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Preparatory poses:Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)
Follow-up poses:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana), Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana), Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Recent surgery in the hips, knees, lower back, or abdomen; Pregnant women (after the second trimester); Sacroiliitis or other sacroiliac issues

Meaning

The “Supta Kapotasana” is a Sanskrit name which can be broken down to three words – Supta + Kapota + Asana:

  1. Supta” = “reclining” or “lying down”
  2. Kapota” = “pigeon”
  3. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, “Supta Kapotasana” can be translated as “Reclining Pigeon Pose” in English. This pose is named after the shape that the body resembles, similar to a pigeon in a reclined position.

Benefits of Reclining Pigeon Pose

Supta Kapotasana (Reclining Pigeon Pose) offers various physical, mental and emotional benefits, which are listed below:

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Physical benefits:

  • Stretches the hips, specifically the hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, outer hips, and glutes
  • Strengthens the muscles in the hip and lower back regions
  • Increase flexibility and mobility in the hip joints
  • Releases tension in the lower back, providing relief from mild lower back discomfort
  • Improve posture and spinal flexibility
  • Release tension in the shoulders and chest, and relieve tightness in these areas
  • Enhance blood flow and circulation in the pelvic region, benefiting the organs in that area

Mental and emotional benefits:

  • Calm the mind, bringing a sense of grounding and centeredness
  • Reduce stress and anxiety, allows for a sense of relaxation and tranquility
  • Release emotional tension and provide an opportunity for emotional release and healing
  • Encourages awareness and a deeper connection between the mind and body
  • Promote mindfulness and present moment awareness
  • Induce a state of deep relaxation, promote a sense of rejuvenation and mental clarity
  • Encourages to introspection and self-reflection, which promotes inner serenity and self-awareness

Supta Kapotasana Practice Guide

Supta Kapotasana (Reclining Pigeon Pose) is a reclined posture that involves lying on the back and bringing one ankle to rest on the opposite thigh near the knee. The pose is known for its deep hip-opening and stretching benefits. This asana helps release tension in your hips, stretch your hip flexors and glutes, and improve flexibility in your lower body. It can help increase hip flexibility, release tension in the lower back, and promote relaxation.

Reclining Pigeon Pose is often practiced as part of a yoga sequence or as a restorative pose to promote relaxation and relieve stress. This yoga pose requires mindfulness and attention to proper alignment to ensure a safe and effective practice.

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Position yourself by lying on your back, bending your knees, and keeping your feet on the floor.
  2. Raise your right foot and place the right ankle near the knee on the left thigh.
  3. Insert your right arm between your legs.
  4. Grasp your right hand with your left hand around the left shin.
  5. Draw your left knee closer to your chest, lifting the left foot off the ground.
  6. Direct your gaze upwards towards the ceiling.
  7. Exhale and experience the stretch in the lower hip area.
  8. Maintain the pose for up to 3 breaths, then gradually release the pose in the opposite sequence.
  9. Repeat these steps while ensuring that the right ankle remains over the left thigh.
  10. Once you have completed the sequence on both sides, relax by lying on the floor.
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Common Mistakes

The common mistakes can limit the benefits of “Supta Kapotasana” and potentially lead to discomfort or strain. They can affect the alignment and effectiveness of the asana. However, the common mistakes of Reclining Pigeon Pose are explaining below:

  • Overarching the lower back: Some individuals tend to excessively arch their lower back in this yoga asana, which can strain the lower back and reduce the stretch in the hips. It is crucial to maintain a neutral or slightly lengthened spine to ensure proper alignment and avoid potential injuries.
  • Rounding the shoulders: Allowing the shoulders to round forward can limit the opening and release in the chest and shoulders. To avoid this, keep the shoulders relaxed and gently draw them back and down, maintaining an open chest and an elongated spine.
  • Straining the neck: It is common to strain the neck by forcefully looking upwards or craning the neck forward. This can lead to discomfort and potential strain. Instead, maintain a relaxed and neutral position of the neck, and only look towards the ceiling if it feels comfortable.
  • Gripping the hands or feet too tightly: Excessive gripping or tension in the hands or feet can restrict the release and relaxation in the asana. Instead, allow for a gentle and relaxed grip, focusing more on the opening and stretch in the hips.
  • Not engaging the core: Neglecting to engage the core muscles can result in a lack of stability and support in the asana. Activating the core muscles helps to maintain a stable and balanced posture, allowing for a deeper stretch and proper alignment.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations can be useful to accommodate different levels of flexibility, address specific limitations or injuries, and provide variations that offer different benefits.

It’s crucial to choose the modification or variation that suits your body and practice mindfully, honoring your body’s limits and avoiding any pain or discomfort. However, the modification and variations of Supta Kapotasana are explaining below:

1. Use of props

Props such as yoga blocks, blankets, or bolsters can be used to modify the asana. Placing a block or bolster under the hips or supporting the head with a folded blanket can provide additional support and make the asana more accessible for those with tight hips or limited flexibility.

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2. Knee support

If there is discomfort or strain in the knee when placing the ankle on the thigh, a modification can be to place a blanket or bolster under the bent knee for added support and to reduce the intensity of the stretch in the hips.

3. Reclined Figure Four Pose

Instead of threading the arm between the legs and clasping the shin, an alternative is to practice the reclined figure four pose. In this variation, the ankle is crossed over the opposite thigh, and the hands can either hold the thigh or interlace behind the thigh to gently draw it towards the chest. This modification provides a similar hip-opening stretch with less intensity.

4. Half-Reclining Pigeon Pose

In this variation, one leg is bent with the foot on the floor, and the other ankle is placed on the thigh near the knee. The reclined position is still maintained, but with a less intense hip stretch compared to the full expression of “Reclining Pigeon Pose.” This modification is suitable for individuals with limited hip flexibility or discomfort.

5. Dynamic movement

Instead of holding the asana statically, dynamic movements can be incorporated, such as gently rocking or swaying from side to side or pulsing the bent knee closer to the chest. This adds a subtle movement element to the asana, enhancing the release and flexibility in the hips.

Precautions and Contraindications

Consider precautions and contraindications, before practicing the Reclining Pigeon Pose, in order to ensure the safety and well-being. However, the precautions and contraindications of Supta Kapotasana are explaining below:

  1. Recent surgery in the hips, knees, lower back, or abdomen: Following surgery in these regions, it is critical to give the damaged areas enough time to recover and to avoid putting too much strain or pressure on them. The Reclining Pigeon Pose involves deep stretching of the hips and lower back, which may not be suitable for individuals recovering from recent surgery. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor/teacher to determine when it is safe to resume such asanas and to receive guidance on modified or alternative asanas that are appropriate during the recovery period.
  2. Pregnant women (after the second trimester): The body changes significantly during pregnancy, and some asanas must be modified or avoided entirely in order to preserve the safety of both the mother and baby. In “Supta Kapotasana,” lying on the back and deep hip opening may not be suitable for pregnant women, particularly after the second trimester when the weight of the uterus can compress major blood vessels. It is crucial for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider and seek guidance from a prenatal yoga instructor/teacher for safe modifications or alternative asanas that are suitable during pregnancy.
  3. Sacroiliitis or other sacroiliac issues: Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the sacroiliac joints that causes pain and discomfort in the lower back and hips. In such cases, deep hip opening poses like “Reclining Pigeon Pose” may exacerbate the symptoms and potentially worsen the condition. It is advisable to avoid or modify asanas that place excessive strain on the sacroiliac joints. Working with a healthcare professional or an experienced yoga instructor/teacher who is knowledgeable about sacroiliac issues can help in identifying appropriate modifications or alternative poses that provide relief without aggravating the condition.

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