White: Surrender your heartWritten by Jennifer S. White | | email@example.com
Practicing yoga poses on our mats is often reflective of life’s greater teachings. At times some postures — like life — require complete surrender to fully experience their benefits and joys. One example of this is restorative pigeon pose.
Pigeon pose has many variations, but restorative pigeon is one of yoga’s most popular asanas, or poses. “Restorative” can be a little misleading, though, as many yogis find it easier and more relaxing to power through stronger asanas than to relax their bodies and minds in deep hip-openers such as pigeon pose, but learning how to let go on your mat can help you learn to let go off your mat as well.
To begin, start on your hands and knees on your mat. Bring your right knee to your right wrist. You can keep your right ankle tucked under your left hip crease if you have tight hips, or you can flex your right foot and begin to take your shin a little more parallel to the top edge of your mat. Make sure that you’re on the side of your right foot and ankle.
With your right leg bent and your right hip in deep external rotation, extend your left leg behind you. Curl your left toes under and track your left knee towards the midline of your body — bringing your left hip into internal rotation. Then uncurl your toes and press all of the toenails of your left foot down into your mat as you lengthen through your left leg. Feel the opening from your left hip crease all the way down the top of your foot.
Tuck your tailbone to lengthen and protect your lower back. If your hips are high off the ground, you can stuff a blanket underneath you. Don’t lean toward the right; rather take your hands to your hip points and make sure that they’re even.
From this length in your lower back and evenness in your hip points (even if your hips hover above the ground or rest on a blanket), take your hands out in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms to a 45-degree angle (think downward dog arms). Press into your hands without moving them and energetically push the mat away. At the same time burrow your right shin into your mat and energetically pull your shin back toward your body. Feel the depth of sensation in your right hip as you do this and then release.
Walk your hands out as far as you need to in order to deepen the stretch. It’s more important to lengthen your spine than it is to take your arms or forehead to the ground. Don’t force your forehead to a surface, but do rest your head on your hands, a block or a blanket if you can. Imagine resting your brain along with your body.
Breathe evenly through your nose and let go of any unnecessary gripping—especially in your forehead, jaw and abdomen. Imagine breathing in positive, healing energy with each inhalation and feel your heart center soften with each exhalation.
Find even deeper release in your restorative pigeon pose by fully surrendering your body and mind.
Hold pigeon pose for up to two minutes or as long as you comfortably can. Release the pose by slowly pressing yourself back up to hands and knees. Repeat on the other side.
Pigeon pose offers an array of health benefits, but to experience its true joy and restoration, it’s first necessary to let go of harbored tension. Learning to leave behind what we don’t need to carry might be one of life’s hardest lessons. Help yourself on your journey with pigeon pose.