Monday, January 30, 2012

Yoga Pose of the Week: Half-Pigeon / Pigeon

Four weeks ago, I started participating in a group yoga class for relaxation. The type of yoga I am practicing is based off of Hatha yoga, which is one of the more common branches. The teacher, Sierra, is 22 hours older than me (weird, right?) and is super cool.

Each Sunday from 12:15pm until 1:30pm, the class is guided through a variety of poses for relaxation and stress-release. From sun salutations to balancing poses, to hip-opening poses, it really is an amazing way to end the week.

The pose I'm going to focus on for today is called "Half Pigeon" or just "Pigeon" depending on who you ask or where you look. From here on, I'll call it Pigeon, because that's what we call it in class.

This pose is known as a hip-opener. Most people carry their stress, emotional baggage, anxiety, negativity, and daily frustrations around in their hips. You may notice this when you have a hard time standing up from sitting, or just pushing your hips forward when standing. Opening the hips is an amazing way to let go of that unneeded black cloud, and Pigeon is a great way to do it.

To go into this pose, after you are good and warmed up, go up into the Downward Dog pose.

After a few deep, relaxing breaths, lift one leg up, keeping the hips squared.

Bend the raised knee to around 90 degrees to open the hips. You will notice that your hips will come un-squared. Let them. Hold for a moment.

Next step is to thread your bent leg through, underneath you. Aim to put your raised ankle to the opposite wrist. (So if your left leg is raised, bring your left ankle to your right wrist, or as close to it as is comfortable). Sink your hips down, and make sure that your straight leg is centred on the mat. Sit up straight, lengthen your spine and neck. Really let your hips open and allow the sensations to come and pass.

When you're ready, hinge your upper body at the hips, and bring your chest and head down to the floor. If you can't reach all the way (like me!) then grab a yoga block, pillow, or anything else that works for you and keeps your body feeling good.

Once you're here, hold it as long as is comfortable. At first, you might not be able to hold it for more that a few seconds. It is a very sensational pose, in that it causes a large amount of sensations, both physical and emotional.

This pose, coupled with a relaxing yoga practice, allowed me to release stress and emotional pain I had been holding onto for months. It is a very rejuvenating pose, and I recommend it for anyone.

If, while you're in this pose, you feel the knee of your straight leg hurting, or uncomfortable, flex the foot. It allows relief of the knee without losing depth of the pose.

As with any yoga pose, or any exercise routine, please only go as far as your body is comfortable. Yoga is a way to become more in-tune with your body, and forcing it into positions that don't feel good will only show disrespect towards yourself. Love yourself, relax into poses, and if it doesn't feel right, then try something else.


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