Emotional Release Brings Physical Release

There are some yoga poses that I absolutely love. When a teacher cues us into these poses, my heart leaps with joy as I know the bliss that will be mine when I settle into the pose.  One of these poses, for me, is pigeon pose. I know it’s not a dramatic or impressive pose, but it is my absolute favorite.

My favorite way to get into pigeon pose is from downward dog. From downward dog I bring my knee forward to between my hands. I align my knee with my hip and place my shin as parallel to the top of my mat as I can get it. No, I can’t get it absolutely parallel but I am getting there! I then lower my hips, bringing my other knee to the floor and walking that foot back to straighten that leg directly behind me in line with my hip.  After making sure my hips are level, I can begin to walk my fingertips out in front and begin to feel the delicious stretch and release that is pigeon pose.

Often when I am holding pigeon pose, things that have been bothering me begin to rise to the surface, clamoring to be seen and felt. I know this is better out than in, so what I have been doing is pushing this energy out of my body through nice, long, deep breaths.  After a few rounds of breathing I inevitably feel lighter and am able to sink more deeply into the pose. As emotions rise to the surface, I again breathe them out.  I look forward to this aspect of pigeon as I feel it really helps me to release emotions I have been holding onto as it physically helps me release the tension in my hips.

I surrender to the pose completely and am always disappointed when, in class, we begin to come out of it. I once read an article on Gaiam’s website called “What Your Favorite Yoga Pose Says About You”. When I saw the title I was praying that pigeon was on the list. It was! It said that people who like pigeon pose are “not intimidated by discomfort and crave the release that comes from working their edges.” I suppose I can see myself in that. I just have to remember that boundaries are there for a reason, and it is not good to push too far too quickly – physically or emotionally.

Do I have the best pigeon pose in a class? Not usually, but I am where I need to be for me, at just the right combination of tension and release that brings me to my edge. Now if I could just feel this way about flying pigeon pose…

I am lucky to be able to balance on my arms at all, let alone have my legs in the position required for flying pigeon – one across the upper arms and the other straight out behind.

I have practiced yoga at a few different studios and in one of the power yoga classes I attended it seemed like every other week we visited this pose. I know it isn’t as difficult as it looks, but it does look difficult, so I think I am intimidated by it. My arms get tired quickly – I am working on building my upper arm strength. It probably wouldn’t hurt me to lose a few pounds, either!

Anyway, I have been trying the pose at home and while I haven’t yet been able to really get into it and enjoy the pose, I have seen what an impact a challenging pose can have on my practice. I once saw a quote  – I think on Pinterest – that said “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Right away, flying crow popped into my head.

While the poses we love – like pigeon – are helpful and positive – those poses we dread are the likely the ones where the most growth happens. The same rules apply here, though. No pushing too far too quickly.

One thing I love about yoga in general and yes, the challenging poses is how they reveal themselves slowly as I surrender to the pose and remember to keep breathing.

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