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Kate Lombardo in Pigeon Pose

This week’s class theme is Flexibility!

Flexibility is often one of the goals that people have for attending a yoga class, and as a theme it can help students understand how to increase flexibility in asanas and in life. By moving and stretching our bodies, we can increase blood circulation, reduce the risk of injuries, and improve balance. When flexibility is present in the mind and spirit, it allows us to be calmer, more centered, and less reactive to daily issues. As we move through life with a flexible attitude, small everyday obstacles don’t bother us as much. We can be resourceful and find creative solutions to anything that comes our way.

It has been said that physical ailments can often arise from blocked emotion. By stretching and stimulating our connective tissue and fascia, we can release old energy that’s holding us back. Stretching also helps to energize the body as it improves circulation and relaxes the mind.

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee

The peak pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or One Legged Pigeon Pose

Pigeon is a highly emotional pose as it allows us to stretch deep into our hips and open them up. Most of our daily stress resides in the hips. This pose is perfect for finding that flexibility to release a lot of stored emotion. Below are three poses that are appropriate for building up to One-Legged Pigeon.

Fire Log

Kate Lombardo in Fire Log pose

How to:

1. Find a seated position on your mat with legs spread apart.
2. Bring your right leg out in front of you, bending it to create just about a 90 degree angle.
3. Bring your left foot over your right knee, stacking your legs on top of one another.
4. Take a couple of breaths, finding more space in your hips as you ground down into your mat.
5. Bring your arms out beside you and press your fingertips into the floor.

Low Lunge

Lisa Bermudez in Low Lunge

How to:

1. Start in Downward Facing Dog.
2. Inhale and on the exhale, lift your right leg up and back.
3. Exhale and bring your right leg through your arms, placing your right foot in between your hands.
4. Drop your back (left) knee down onto the mat with the top of your foot facing down.
5. Make sure your right knee is over your right ankle.
6. Lift your torso and tuck your tailbone, drawing your navel to your spine.

Seated Leg Cradle

How to:

1. Find a seated position on your mat, cross-legged.
2. Lift your right leg, hooking your right arm under.
3. Continue to breathe and left your leg, using the support of your hands to deepen your stretch.
4. Repeat with the left leg lifted.

And finally… Pigeon Pose

How to:

1. Begin in Downward Facing Dog or a tabletop position.
2. Bring the right foot in and place it down on the mat behind the left wrist.
3. Adjust your shin so that it is comfortable for you. The more parallel your shin is to the front edge of the mat, the deeper the stretch will be. You can gently adjust your shin with your hands to make it more comfortable.
3. Extend the left leg back on the mat with the top of the left foot resting on the mat.
4. Come up onto your fingertips and walk the torso slightly up with the chest lifting and broadening.
5. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone down to the mat.
6. Stay here or to deepen the pose, begin to fold towards the mat keeping the spine lengthened. Come onto your forearms or rest your head on your palms. To further deepen the stretch, bring the forehead all the way down to the mat and extend the arms out in front of you with palms facing down.
7. Take several breaths here. As you inhale, lengthen up through the spine and crown of the head and as you exhale, gently deepen into the stretch more.
8. To come out of the pose, gently walk the hands and chest back up. Lift the right leg up and back slowly coming back into Downward Facing Dog or move intuitively!