Week 1 – Meeting the Posture
Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on pigeon pose…. This is one of those poses most people tend to love or hate without much middle ground. For those of us that love it (I am on this team) this month will be a breeze…for the rest of you (my apologies and don’t worry I have my versions of this too!) take this month on as an exploration. We will look at a bunch of different ways to practice this pose as well as several ways to add props to make it more accessible and comfortable when we do practice it. This is one of the best parts of practicing at home…need 6 props for a pose to feel great…who cares! No one can see you if you don’t want them to. Remember what you learn and discover about a pose here should transfer into your practice during other times. Granted when you are in a faster paced vinyasa class you might not be able to grab 6 props for pigeon pose but just remember what your body needs most in each pose and do what you can to honor that and you can’t go wrong!
Some ideas for your journey through the month: Take a day 1 photo so you can get a good look at where your body really is in this pose, we need that birds eye view to really see where we are in space and where we need to work on things to improve our alignment in the posture, my day one photo is above…. Commit to practicing this pose in some variation each day for the entire month, grab another photo maybe in the middle and again at the end to compare, you can share your photos or not, entirely up to you! You can also keep a journal with your practice and take a moment after each time you hit the mat to jot down what comes up, was today little easier, or maybe a little more challenging, did you not want to spend time today but you did it anyway, could be as simple as just a few words.
The goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.
Check out our week one mini practice where we will really focus on finding alignment in the legs and explore some different props to make this pose accessible and comfortable for each of us.
Week 2 – Pitfalls and Modifications
As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we aren’t there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.
Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)
It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we can’t do it. This is one of the great benefits of deep diving into a new pose like this each month.
Very often our mobility and ability to find comfort in this pose prevent us from finding a proper alignment in the pose. This week in our mini practice we will look at some different approaches to the pose making it altogether more accessible. This pose is really all about the hips and it is important to keep on eye on their alignment in this pose…check back with week 1’s video where we use some props with the legs to help keep that alignment. Another biggie is watching for rounding in the spine as you fold forward – just like all other folds think long straight spine!
Find yourself some wall space and grab a chair to try all the different variations with me today!