If you have been following this part of my blog, you’ll know what this section is all about. If not, then welcome. I was chatting to someone after a particularly challenging yoga class recently, and she said something to me which has stuck with me ever since; no matter how you feel before your yoga practice, you’ll feel differently afterward. Good, or bad, this couldn’t be more true. Some days I step onto my mat and I feel like I can conquer the world, only to fall flat on my face, and some days I get onto my mat, spend a good 20 minutes rolling around avoiding anything and everything resembling a real yoga pose and somehow manage to hang in handstand without any effort. Yoga is funny like that, each day, each practice and each pose teaches you something new.
This particular post is about Royal Pigeon (and no, that’s not the ruler of the weird pigeons who flap around and try and steal your lunch when you aren’t looking). Say hello to the beautiful Ellen everyone.
“This pose is intricate. It looks so beautiful and simple, but there are so many areas that need to be fully warmed up and flexible to be able to reach comfort in this pose. It was a long time before I was even able to flip my grip, never mind even comprehend my foot touching my head. I mean it – I couldn’t comprehend it! I never dreamed of it. In fact, I did dream of it, but that impossible dream, that far-fetched movie reel that plays in your head each night. Yoga manifests dreams. Dreaming and believing have become an integral part of my practice. Apart from the wishful thinking, it also took approaching my mat every day to practice not only this pose, but flexibility in all the areas this pose demands. Like a lot of asanas in yoga, it taught me dedication, practice and deep patience. Dedication to turn up each day and keep trying, practicing over and over until your hamstrings are numb and being kind to yourself, finding patience and peace in the fact that a pose may take years to reach. These lessons are, as always, taken off the mat – the lessons of dedication, practice and patience as well as the lesson to dream and believe. In case you’re wondering – yes I do actually dream of yoga. When I am asleep I am pressing up into handstands and falling into hollow backs like Dylan Werner and Carson Clay Calhoun, it just hasn’t happened when I am awake, yet.”
Royal Pigeon is a funny name for something that allows you to feel a really deep sense of peace and balance when you get it right. For me, this pose was something that scared me – for a long time. I don’t know why, but everything about it made me anxious. I guess patience played into that a lot and I am not, by nature a very patient person. I think I also struggled with the thought of trying it out, and failing – something which I think I struggle with off the mat, every day. Failing is hard, it’s hard because it makes you feel like you aren’t good enough. Admitting you want something, trying to get it and failing is even worse because then people with think less of you, so it’s easier not to try, to downplay whatever it is that you are trying to do, downplay how much effort you have put into something to avoid disappointment – sound familiar, or is that just something that I do? Staying still in normal pigeon pose is hard enough on a good day, resisting the urge to shift and shuffle around and fidget my way out of the challenging parts of a pose that make me feel uncomfortable. It looks graceful, and when you get it right, you even feel that way for a while. Flipping your grip and getting your foot onto your head takes a lot, and sometimes my body lets me do it, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I fall out, literally plop sideways off my mat – but that’s ok, because I just pick myself up and try again. This usually happens when I’m fighting the pose, instead of letting it be and breathing into the tightness in my hips. On good days, this pose makes me feel more centred than anything else. On the bad days, it’s a struggle, and some times I can’t even catch my foot. You just have to breathe, accept it for what it is and know that tomorrow might be different.