For me Kapinjalasasana at first appeared more like a labyrinth pose than a bird's pose: the body appears so mangled and I kept trying to understand how the shoulder twists this way to grab the foot.
As the part of what-goes-where became clearer to me, another challenge started, and it was placing all the pieces together.
This isn't a tutorial on how to get into the pose,
but rather what are the 4 warm up keys to unlocks before we attempt it:
Balancing on One Leg and One Hand
One of the poses that are the most difficult yet most rewarding, especially when it comes to prepping for Kapinjalasana.
Work on any variation (or a few each practice) to gain the strength and mainly balance you will need later in the pose.
Focus here on:
Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (One Legged Downward Facing Dog)
This pose obviously works on the hip flexors, but it also strengthens the lifted leg as it 'teaches' it to stay high.
It's important to work on because once we're in Kapinjalasana- the easier the leg lifts up the less stress there's on the shoulder to pull it toward the head.
You can do this exercise as a static pose- staying in it for a few breaths, or dynamically- lower and lift it a few times.
Warming Up the Back in any Backbend
Kapinjalasana is a pretty intense backbend and so we want to warm up to it with lighter backbends before we approach it.
Work on any backbend that is the most fun and accessible to you, so that once you're in the pose you don't hurt yourself.
Opening the Shoulders
In Kapinjalasana we can grab the foot in 2 ways that are exactly the same as the ones in Tiger pose: reaching back like we do in Bow, or flipping the grip.
In any case the shoulders need to be stretched and warmed up and it is better done before we get into the pose.
For the variation where we reach back without flipping the grip- work on opening the shoulders in backbends like Dhanurasana (Bow), Ustrasana (Camel) or Set Bandha (Bridge).
For the variation where we flip the grip- work on opening the shoulders in backbends like Urdva Dhanurasana (Wheel), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged Pigeon), full Dhanurasana, or on Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin).
Once all these warm ups are a part of your practice, Kapinjalasana will be more accessible.
For more backbend tips you can check out my eBook
Love of Backbends here
Have a blessed day,