Pose of the Week: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:07
This week’s pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Eka means one, Pada means leg or foot and Kapota is a dove or pigeon. Rajakapot means the king of pigeons. Asana means pose or posture. “In this asana, the chest is pushed forward like that of a pouter pigeon, hence the name of the pose.” (BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga, Thorsons Edition 2001 p.321). This asana follows Vrschikasana, (that we looked at last week) in the sequence of asanas in Light on Yoga.
BKS Iyengar demonstrating how to enter Eka Pada Rajakapotasana in Light on Yoga (1966)
This backbend, and Vrschikasana 1 from last week, are advanced asana. What does ‘advanced’ actually mean?  Each student of yogasana needs to progress towards it through carefully paced, incremental steps. And of course, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of time. And it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, as the saying goes. In Iyengar Yoga, and here at Yoga Path, the asanas are introduced in such a way that the student works each part, each region and the various systems of the body. Initially, standing asanas are learnt in the Beginner’s Course, providing an introduction to all spinal movements, such as, horizontal, vertical, side extension, forwards, backwards etc. This provides the foundation for the rest of the classification of asanas. These are: sitting, forward bends, lateral extensions, abdominal asanas, inversions and then backbends.
“The spine is the root of the human system. Standing poses are the beginning. In standing poses, you move forward and backward as a peripheral action you can take deeper later, with twists and all those things. In twists, the side muscles of the spine are activated. In forward bends the posterior muscles and vertebrae are activated. But in these poses we never use the anterior spine to such an extent that it also is bathed in blood, as it is in backbends.” (From the interview with BKS Iyengar in December 1991)
In Basic Guidelines for Teachers of Yoga by Geeta and BKS Iyengar, describes how in backward extensions the anterior and the posterior muscles of spine are activated. The posterior muscles work on more of a gross level and the anterior munches work on a subtle level. “In the intricate, intensive and advanced backward extensions, the anterior spine along with the anterior muscles have to participate in order to bring the required action and expected effects.” (p.37)
Your intelligence is taught to spread to all parts of your being. It needs to be gradual. It also needs a careful and gentle approach. In backbends, in particular, utmost care should be taken to look after your spine.
“But I also say that with backbends, you have to be cautiously bold. Not carelessly bold. You have to descend to the dictation of the spine. You cannot command from the brain to do the poses. As you play with a child—when you play with a child you play in such a way that you guard the child from injuries. Similarly you have to play in backbends, guarding your spine.” (From the interview with BKS Iyengar in December 1991)
See you on the mat :)
Get ready for the Festive Season and practice some restorative yoga and learn some Pranayama techniques to navigate Christmas and the Silly Season. Special 2 hour Class Sunday 8th December 2-4pm. $45 includes afternoon tea. Book your place: https://yogapath.punchpass.com/passes/71116
Nicole Schroeter
Certified Iyengar Teacher
Yoga Path
An Iyengar School
Learn more about your yoga - become an Iyengar Yoga Teacher
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