Awkward Pigeon Pose
By Cheryl Hansen
As each podFLOW 1 class winds down—just when my heart is ready to chill and I begin to feel that sense of accomplishment—it happens: half pigeon pose or sleeping pigeon.
Except my pigeon can’t sleep.
This hip opener is intended, of course, to give our hips—which should be pretty loose at this point—a strong, hearty stretch. But it also conjures all kinds of emotion and intense feelings, as well as some inner critique for those of us whose pigeons have insomnia. The idea is to surrender oneself to the stretch, but if all the parts aren’t positioned properly—it becomes a fidget-fest of adjustment.
My pigeon has evolved in recent months into something rather ridiculous: I tuck a bolster under my floating hip to ensure my hips stay level. And, at the suggestion of a genius instructor, I place a block under my sternum. The combination supports me, allowing me to fully surrender. I can be still and breathe into the stretch and let go.
I worried for a while that the whole setup was overkill and that I should be trying to pull off the pose without so much support. But it occurred to me that if I need support in order to stop fighting the pose … if I need support in order to surrender… if I need support in order to feel safe… then that’s exactly what I should do.
That idea, I’m beginning to realize, applies to more than just a yoga pose. Asking for support off the mat in order to breathe, surrender and let go shouldn’t be so difficult. I don’t know if it’s pride or ego or the inner toddler in all of us, but it seems like all too often we insist on doing it all by ourselves—as if asking for help is a sign of weakness. And just like in pigeon pose—if a little support can help position us for success, shouldn’t we feel free to embrace it?