Full Pigeon Pose · Kapotasana
Kneeling Deep Spinal Extension
This pose will typically require a large degree of preparation, even for quite flexible practitioners, to be done safely and with good feeling afterwards. While this pose is done on the knees it is useful to think of it as a standing back bend and work strongly through the lower body to create the support for a healthy extension of the spine. This is the kind of pose that may not be accessible for some individuals no matter how flexible they become due to variability in relative size of vertebrae to the length and curvatures of the spine. You should be very comfortable in your wheel pose before considering to attempt Kapotasana.
Ground down through the knees and lift through the sternum. Move in and out of extension of the spine without dropping back a few times first. Hold in extension for a few breaths while continuing to lift through the chest. Slowly bring either the finger tips or the top of the head to touch the floor behind you with a controlled lowering. In the beginning you will just want to breath in this position and feel what pressures may be exerted on the spine and spread them out. If the breath feels controlled and smooth and the body still soft you can lift the head slightly and see if you can walk the hands closer or onto the feet and then the heels. If you are able to move onto the forehead be careful to not ground to the forehead, as the neck is susceptible to injury here. Only lightly touch the forehead to the floor while using the elbows and core activation to maintain lift.
If bringing the head towards the feet is to much you can treat the pose as a variation of wheel pose and stay working on the arms to stretch the shoulders as in the middle picture above.