Eka Pada Rajakapotāsana – The Dove 2022

eka pada raja Kapotāsana

What is the correct way to do the eka pada rajaKapotāsana posture?

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion inclinacion pelvis

That is not the right question.

You also don’t need to learn all 300-odd bones and 600 muscles by heart to understand that each pose is designed to stress and stimulate certain areas of the body more than others.

What do we want to do, what is our intention in this posture?

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion descansando manos. pies mas cerrados
La paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variación con rodilla doblada y pie alejado

Functionally, we must ask ourselves first of all what is the target area that we want to stress.   In the case of the pigeon, an asymmetric posture , that is to say that we work with 1 leg at a time, our target area is: 

Of the lower body: Bone: The hip joint and Muscle is the gluteus . Of the upper body: Bone: lumbar spine and muscle in the lumbar.

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion descansando frente

Therefore, in order to find a way to most effectively stretch the target area, we must explore the parameters of the posture that will help us or restrict our ability to stretch the gluteus of the front leg. These parameters are the position of the hands, the feet, the tilt of the pelvis and the position of the knees. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion descansando en pared

Therefore, the most effective way to do pigeon or any other posture varies from person to person. It is not about doing what you want, it is about doing what effectively stimulates the target area, preventing some students from feeling that the option you are giving them is ineffective or harmful.

This principle is what leads yoga towards a functional approach, it is not chaos, but self empowerment . It is being able to discover together with your students what they find useful or useless

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion descansando pared rodilla doblada

Everyone will react to postures differently, so we must modify the posture to suit each body. The first thing we have to be clear about is what the target area is, that is the most important thing. Then how can we alter the pose to suit your body and keep you feeling the target areas by making the variation of the pose that is most effective for you and not harmful. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion supina abrazo rodilla

stop saying hip opening

What we’re actually doing is externally rotating the femur in the pelvic cavity. This joint is what we call the hip, and with this movement of the femur what we are working on is the range of motion.

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion sentada en silla

We must adapt our instructions functionally because each human being has a unique set of bones. Naming someone with little range of motion “opening the hips” can generate feelings of inferiority, or that “it’s not good for yoga” or even force to “open the hips” resulting in a very important and expensive injury to recover from.

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion sentada en bolster

While if we dedicate ourselves to identifying the different degrees of movement as different (neither better nor worse) we will be able to create more self-awareness, acceptance and less risk of injury . So, that’s why skeletal variation is why we need a functional approach, because it’s what allows us to skillfully tailor each yoga pose to each body. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion sentada en bolster2

showing the variations

The important thing about this position is the front leg. The leg behind us will allow or restrict our abilities to stretch the gluteus of the leg in front.  These variations can look very different, but when you look only to the movement of the front leg, it is exactly the same movement. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion activa

That is why it is important to analyze why someone can choose one of these variations. Analyzing the pelvic movement of the students helps us to discover the inclination that each one needs in their pelvis in order to stress the target area. 

The different variations will affect the position of the pelvis. The important thing is not where we place the knee, that is misleading. The important thing is what that knee position allows us to do with the pelvis. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion inclinando la pelvis

The pelvis tilts differently in each variation, and the placement of the feet, hands, or knees is going to be different on each body. Here we are looking at some examples

For some people what we wrongly call ” the complete expression of the posture ” is going to destroy the knee , because it is the most aggressive rotation suitable for very wide ranges of motion.  

Hips may or may not be level!

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion inclinando la pelvis 2

We must stop instructing postures like this or that and let go of perfection. This is not the functional yoga approach. 

Every foot, knee, and pelvic position helps or restricts us from effective stretching in the target area. And the effective way to feel the stretch varies from person to person because their bones are different. 

The fundamental premise of the functional approach to yoga is to understand that all our bones are different, because that is how we have to adapt the postures. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion en bloque

On the other side of the coin , when the posture is not adapted, when we have to do the postures strictly as they are instructing us, even if we try to do that, no one is going to feel the posture in the same way, even if on the outside they appear to do it in the same way. manner. 

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion sentada en bolster3

In that “Do what I tell you” aesthetic approach If we ask our students to do the posture in the same way, knowing that the target area is the gluteus and that some people will find it effective, but others will find it ineffective and others will find it harmful, we turn yoga into an inefficient practice.

If someone drops their pelvis forward in this pose, our instinct guided by aesthetics and the poorly learned yoga myth of being able to “support a cup of tea on the sacrum” would have us aligning their pelvis to be able to put a cup of tea in his sacrum. Because we know that this is the important thing in yoga, right? Hahaha

la paloma eka pada rajaKapotāsana. Variacion sentada en bloques2

Using the bolster or blocks we reduce the rotation , therefore the person who needs this variation will feel more comfortable. But it is important to understand that with these supports the same effect is produced as changing the tilt of the pelvis. In that case the pelvis will tilt to one side, we will not be aligned but nothing happens!

The important thing is to understand that there is no perfect pelvic position .  The pelvic tilts may look opposite in different people but the important thing is that both feel the stretch in the gluteus. 

How to teach? According to Paul Grilley. 

1. Mention the target area. In this way we empower the student with the knowledge of what they are doing. 

2. Suggest at least 2 variations 

3. Mention where they shouldn’t feel it . Many poses have areas that can be subdued, and most leg poses are the knees. 

4. Dialogue with your students , you cannot be happy in the room assuming that everyone feels happy flowers, that is a big mistake because they may not feel anything, or feel it where they should not, and if you do not ask, you will never know.

5. Offer to adjust them or suggest variations for them. When adjusting, always ask if that suits them better or worse in the target area. 


In the pigeon , what matters is the front leg that flexes, turns and flexes a little more. The range of motion we see is skeletal variation, it has nothing to do with emotional imbalance or spiritual crisis. There are different points of compression which is immutable . It doesn’t mean that person is lazy or more advanced, it’s just different . Each one has a healthy range of mobility and it is what we have to aspire to work with each student.

If you wish To further explore the practice of yoga from a functional, trauma-informed perspective with Ayurveda, we have prepared a Face-to-face training of 60 hours during 2 weekends in April 2022 in Altea, Alicante. All the information can be found at the following link: Functional yoga training Early bird price until January 30 and we have 3 places available.


Patricia Sánchez
Patricia Sánchez
Articles: 48

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