Ground Down, Fly High

The pose breakdown of the week is Pigeon Pose, also know as One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. In Sanskrit called Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Say that three times fast!

“Eka” = One
”Pada” = Leg/Foot
”Raja” = King
”Kapota” = Pigeon
”Asana” = Pose

This pose is about letting go. And with the holiday season in full swing, this can be the perfect pose to destress in. Your hips hold a lot of emotion and this pose can be a huge release for anything you’ve been feeling this winter. Whether you choose to practice in the warm studio or by your fire place, this pose is definitely going to stretch out your legs and hips after sitting at the dinner table for so long.

I like to practice this pose with extra heat to loosen up the tightness in my legs and lower back muscles. It’s also a great escape to be warm during the cold winter months.

After warming up for a few minutes (some Sun Salutations will do the trick), come into downward facing dog. Press the knuckles of your hands into the ground, bend into one knee, then the other to pedal out your feet and loosen the back side of your body. Connect with the ground and find your foundation in your hands, feet, core. Lift your right leg high into the sky behind you. Bend your knee and kick your foot in towards your body. Press your knee up high to open your hip and hold for three breaths. This helps you find length and space in your hip flexor.

Straighten your leg back into three legged dog, then bend your knee into your chest. Pause here and pull your knee to your nose. Protect your wrists and always keep pushing into the knuckles of your hands. Pull your belly in towards your spine and round your back. Move slowly and feel the process, this is important to check in with every part of your body.

Place your right knee behind your right wrist. Move your shin toward parallel with the top of your mat.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it parallel yet, that’ll come with time. Always remind yourself that you are doing the work, and where ever you are is perfect for now. Keep your front foot flexed.

Check your back leg and make sure it is pointing straight behind you. Pull your left hip forward and your right hip back to keep your hips squared. Press both of your hips toward the ground.

Photo: @jwaitsphoto Yogi: @jessicajeannevultaggio

Photo: @jwaitsphoto Yogi: @jessicajeannevultaggio

If sitting up is working for your body, stay there. If you want to work further in this pose and release further, slowly walk your hands out in front of you. Fold deeply over your front leg. Allow your palms to lay face up long out in front of you. Your palms facing up will allow you to fully receive this release.

Check in with your breath, check in with each muscle. See where you can relax. See what you are tensing up. Slow your breathing and bring your focus to the movement of your chest. Remind yourself here that your breath is one thing you have control over in this moment. What can you let go of that’s stressing you out and that you cannot control? Come back to your breath. Stay here for ten breaths.

Move back into downward facing down and take any movement you need before flying into the other side. Allow yourself to feel the difference between your two sides. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Work through the same process you did on the other side.

If you didn’t fold forward in the other side, try it here. If you find it isn’t what you need in this practice today, do what you need. But continue to come back to your breath and focus on the movement in your chest. Hear your heart beat against the ground.

Photo: @jwaitsphoto Yogi: @jessicajeannevultaggio

Photo: @jwaitsphoto Yogi: @jessicajeannevultaggio

A modification I use often in this pose is placing a block or pillow underneath my bent legs thigh. It gives me more space to square my hips.

Written by Jessica Jeanne Vultaggio

Jessica is an RYT-200 certified teacher who graduated from our DDY Teacher Training Program and subs classes on our Tybee studio. You’ll find her on her mat often and as one of our badass Ambassadors helping around the studio!