Monday, February 9, 2015

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Half-Pigeon Pose

Find a deep opening in the hips and low-back in
Half-Pigeon Pose with a Twist, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana variation. “Eka Pada” means one legged and “Rajakapotasana” means king pigeon. Find a variation that best serves your body. If Half-Pigeon brings you pain in the area of the knees, try “Thread the Needle” variation laying down on the back. If you want to try the twist, make sure that you aren’t forcing your body into the pose. Find your edge, and utilize the breath to create the balance of ease and effort in the pose.

To move into Half-Pigeon Pose: start in Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana. On an inhale breath, lift the right leg high behind you. On an exhale, draw the knee in towards the chest and place the foot behind the left wrist. Bend the knee and place the knee behind the right wrist. Option to keep the right knee in line with the right hip or bring the knee open towards the right. Flex the right toes towards the right knee in order to protect the knee and ankle.Check-in with the body here and see if this position brings you pain. If it does, move down to instructions for “Thread the Needle Pose.”

Look back at the left leg. Walk the foot further back to extend the leg and to align the hip, knee and ankle in on-line.  Notice if the foot is curved, straighten out the foot. The top of the foot, knee and thigh should all be facing straight down on the ground. Use a block, folded up towel or blanket for support under the right hip for support and to “square” off the hips. Bring the hips level and rest the palms on the sides of the body or use two blocks, to support height and alignment in the spine.

Sit tall, lift the chest and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Stay here and breathe. Option to fold forward. On an inhale breath, lift the sternum up towards the ceiling. On an exhale slowly fold forward with a flat-back. Come down to a prop, blankets or block or rest on the forearms and create a pillow for the head. Place the forehead down on the hands or on a block to bring a sense of calm to the central nervous system.

Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Notice the sensations of the body. Send the exhale to any areas that may feel tightness in the hips, groins, and low-back. Focus on the breath moving up and down the spine. When the mind wanders, come right back to the breath, in order to practice being present in the moment.

To move into the twist: toe-heel the right foot towards the left side of the mat, so that the right knee is in-line with the hip. Bring the palms together at your heart center. On an inhale breath, lengthen out through the crown of the head. On an exhale breath, twist to the right, placing the left elbow in front of the right knee or to the right-side of the right knee for a deeper twist.
Use the placement of the left elbow to help you lengthen the crown of the head forward towards the front of the room so that the spine is long in the twist rather than rounding. On the inhale lengthen. On the exhale, allow the breath to pull you deeper into the twist rather than “muscling” your way deeper. Notice the hips. See if you can re-adjust the hips to be level. Often when we twist, the quality of alignment becomes altered. Stay here and breathe, for 3-5 full-rounds of breath. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales. Slowly unwind and come back to center.

Twist to the opposite side: toe-heel the right foot and knee towards the right side of your mat so that your right hip is more externally rotated. Bring the palms to touch at the heart. On an inhale breath, lengthen through the crown of the head. On an exhale, twist to the left, bring the right elbow in front of the foot or to the left of the foot, for a deeper twist. Lengthen the spine towards the front of the room so that the spine is not rounding. Check in with the breath. Make sure you can still create a smooth and even inhale and exhale. If the breath becomes labored, back out of the pose to maintain a quality inhale and exhale.

Slowly unwind and come back to center. Bring the palms back down in front of you, to shoulder-width distance. Tuck the back toes. Unfold the right leg and lift the right leg behind you. Come into a three-legged Downward Facing Dog. Create some movement with the right leg to allow the blood flow back into the right leg and into the joints. Take the same instructions on the opposite side. Know that both sides will feel different. Notice the sensations in the body and focus on the breath.

Thread the Needle Pose (supine): Come to lay down on the back. Bend the knees and bring the feet hip-width distance apart. Align the knees over the ankles. Bend the right knee and place the ankle on top of the left thigh. Create the number four with the legs. Lift the left leg off of the ground. Interlace the palms by threading the left arm through the space in between the legs. Flex the right toes towards the right knee. Draw the knees in towards the chest. Notice the gentle opening in the right hip and glute. Use the right elbow to gently nudge the right knee open so that the shin becomes more parallel to the body. Draw the shoulder-blades down towards the ground.

Stay here and breathe. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales. Notice how you feel,  physically, energetically, and even taking note of emotions that may surface. Notice the emotions without judgment and allow the emotions to float away like clouds passing in the sky. Bring the focus back to the breath. Notice each inhale and exhale and watch the breath as it moves up and down the spine. Give the breath a color. “Watch” the color as it moves throughout the body. Gently come out of the pose. Take the same mindful instructions on the opposite side.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Christi Iacono, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga

Christi Iacono is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. She guides adults, kids and families in the ancient tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her daily personal practice. She is passionate about  sharing her experience, inspiration, and dedication with her students. She is committed to being a life-long student and teacher of the practice. Christi carefully works with each student in order to find the variation that best serves their body, finding the balance of effort and ease in every posture, “sthira sukham asanam.” Yoga is accessible to all.

IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.

Donation-based yoga class: 
Sat., March 7th, 9-10:15 am, proceeds donated to NEDA, National Eating Disorders Association.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and in her home. She can help you learn more about how to bring essential oils into your life for better health, ambiance and aromatherapy. Visit to learn more.
Go to to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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