Hi yogis! Sorry I'm late. It's a big double whammy posting today to keep us on schedule with our reguarly scheduled programing.
It's been a few weeks. Are you all practiced and limber?
Because I'm not. Nope. I've totally fallen out of practice and failed you as a fellow yogi. But, there is no time like the present to start again.
Which, speaking of starting again, I'm contemplating training for a marathon. Hmmm. Go big or go home I guess.
But I digress.
Today is all about PIGEON! Which I L-O-V-E by the way. It's brutal and emotional and wonderfully awesome all at the same time. Overload here we come!
Pigeon is easily integrated into any sun salutation. I will show you a variation of pigeon as well for those of you with knee and back issues.
Before we get started I just have to say one more time, I LOVE PIGEON!!
*clearing of throat*
Now that I'm back under control, here we go…
Start with a sun salute. Pigeon can be quite intense so it's important to warm up those legs and back. Do a couple rounds of a sun salute before you introduce it in.
Start with a downward facing dog. Bend your right knee and bring it toward your chest. Rotate your leg so the ankle is pointing to the left. Put your knee and ankle on the ground, extend your left leg behind you and lower your hips to the ground. Your left leg will be extended straight behind you, your right leg will be in front of you, knee bent, and ankle going to the left.
It can be stressful on the back to sit up straight. Go ahead and lean forward. You can support yourself on your elbows, or if you have a thick book, rolled up blanket, or a yoga brick to lean on, that is helpful and ok too.
This pose will create an intense stretch in your bum. Yep. It's awesome. This pictures shows my left leg bent (I thought I had one with the right leg bent. sorry.) But you get the idea. Most likely, your knee is bent significantly, your ankle may be under your hip. Which is just fine.
There are a couple options to increase intensity and get a deeper stretch. Lean forward and put your forehead on your arms or on the floor. This will let your chest sink to the floor. Also, move your ankle from under your hip to be more parallel with your knee. So bring it up on the mat, closer to your shoulder. Increase the angle of your bent knee. Make sense?
To release from this pose, put your hands on the mat and rotate your hips up and head down. This will take the pressure off of your leg so you can step back to downward facing dog. Stretch the for a few breaths, let the blood flow back into your leg. Then repeat on the other side.
TO FINISH: From pigeon return to downward facing dog. You can 1. continue through with a set of warriors or 2. step or jump both feet between hands and finish up the sun salute with forward bend, inhale to flat back, exhale forward bend, inhale to mountain, exhale to heart center.
VARIATION: Reverse Pigeon.
Pigeon can be stressful for those with bad knees and weak backs. Instead, do reverse pigeon. This is done by lying on your back, and bending one knee. Put the ankle of the other leg on the knee. Thread your arms around and through the leg and interlock fingers behind the bent knee. Pull your knee to your chest. This will create the same stretch in the butt and release pressure in your low back.
To release, slowly release the hands and let the legs down on an exhale.
TO FINISH: Place both feet on the mat, knees bent, arms at your side. You can go right into Chivasina from here.
I really enjoy the stretch I get from pigeon. As you continue your practice and your joints and muscles loosen up the stretch will become more comfortable for you.
I have heard a few instructors say that if you are not emotional in your practice, keep practicing. We know that the body stores the suppressed emotion and feelings in the hips, among other places. When you stretch the hips sometimes those emotions come back up. Pigeon is known for this. (I have actually found myself crying in class. Uncontrollably. Not kidding.) When this happens, it is important to allow the body to process the information. If you find yourself crying or weepy like I did, take a deep breath and just relax. Don't tense up about the experience, but let it happen, relax and breath through it. If you are at home, count yourself lucky. If you are in a class, please remember that they are not judging you. Everyone else is focused on what they are doing and feeling.
Unless you are one of those makes-alot-of-noise cryers. Then you might want to take it outside. 🙂
As always, please feel free to post any questions or comments.