The Drunken Pigeon. ~ Alexa Maxwell

Via elephant journal
on Dec 16, 2011
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It was Pigeon Pose that did it.

In particular, the pesky King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, and yes, I had to look that up!) – the full expression of pigeon, arms reaching back over the head to gracefully cradle the back foot which is ever-so-gently touching the back of the head. It’s a beautiful pose to see.

I can’t freaking do it! I can’t even sit with both hipbones square on the ground; my pigeon looks like she’s been loading up on the breadcrumbs and then had a few too many drinks, tipping awkwardly to one side. I call her “chunky drunken pigeon.”

The Powers That Be have gifted me with many attributes, some of which I am profoundly grateful for, and others that I endure with a reluctant affection. I love my large breasts but I do wish I could remove them for certain activities, such as yoga and horseback riding.

But then my bubble butt would just stand out more.

As I approach my own yoga teacher training, I wonder:  am I built for yoga? I’m not a young, lithe, boyish sylph of a girl. I’m voluptuous like a 40’s film star, and yoga has made me muscly on top of all that. I’m in my fourth decade of life. (The latter part of it!) And here’s the part that scares me:

I can’t do all the poses

There. I said it. And I wonder if a teacher who can’t demonstrate a pose can really tell students how to do it without showing it? There are poses I rock at. There are some I just can’t do. Does it matter? Would it matter to me if I were taking my own class?

The teacher showing us King Pigeon could do it. So could another girl – young, blonde, and built like a dancer. I watched her, jealous, until she looked over at me and gave me a radiant smile. She was happy, and I was happy for her as I wobbled out of drunken pigeon.

I’ll keep trying, keep practicing. But I can’t change my body type, and I can’t rewind the clock to take away a decade or two. I am who I am as a yogi and as a woman. Yoga keeps me strong and flexible and sane. My love for the art and practice of yoga will shine through, I know.

Maybe I can just bring in a picture of King Pigeon? And if I see any Drunken ones, I’ll smile and understand.

Photo Credits:,

 Alexa Maxwell is a writer, teacher, traveler and student of yoga. She is a huge fan of elephant journal and is honored to be part of the herd. You can read more at her blog here , follow her on Twitter @catnipkiss, or wait for her upcoming travel memoir which is a work in progress.


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25 Responses to “The Drunken Pigeon. ~ Alexa Maxwell”

  1. YesuDas says:

    Love this, Alexa! "When the body is young, the dance is pretty; when the body is wise, the dance is beautiful." –Nureyev

  2. yogalouisville says:

    I really like this article and appreciate the authors honesty. And, I ain't built like some skinny yoga girl either. But, I can rock out raja kopatasana. I remember doing sambala sarvangasana (as a student) for the first time and damn near being suffocated by my breasts. Some guy looked over at me (you should never turn your head in shoulderstand) and said "I usually have to pay extra to see that". I almost died of embarrassment. My two cents is to teach what you can do, not what you cannot demonstrate. I don't teach asana that I am unable to perform correctly. Try using props if you need them to keep your hips even. OM~

  3. catnipkiss says:

    That is a wonderful quote – when I reach the age of "embroidered pillows", I shall have it embroidered on one 😉 Thank you! – Alexa

  4. catnipkiss says:

    Thanks, Yogalouisville (Is that Louisville as in Colo? I'll have to visit you if so, I'm just down the road!) Yeah, the breasts get in the way – I call rabbit "Motorboat pose" for that reason! Good to keep a sense of humor in your yoga, and hopefully I will work some kinks out before the training in April!
    Peace – Alexa

  5. yogalouisville says:

    Louisville, Kentucky It is imperative for me to keep a sense of humor for sanity! Peace and Blessings to you!

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

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  7. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    This is lovely!! You only teach what you know and perhaps you know how to safely move in and out of poses without 'doing' them for yourself. Not every teacher demonstrates and perhaps it's sort of like being a coach – the coach isn't out on the field, but understand the game through and through. 🙂 I'm glad you are here – I hope to hear more from you!

  8. Tracy says:

    Thank you. I could have written this myself. I always tell my students I shouldn't deprive them of an opportunity to try something new because of my limitations. But I give excellent verbal cues.

  9. Randi says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am a twenty something, but I too have the 40's movie star body. I get really intimidated by my fellow super skinny dancer yoga teachers, and I cannot do all of the asanas. I have to keep myself from being to hard on myself about it, so it was really comforting to hear that I'm not alone!

    Thanks for your honesty and good humor!

  10. catnipkiss says:

    thanks, Chiara, that makes a lot of sense! – Alexa

  11. catnipkiss says:

    oh, but the poses are SOO beautiful when done to their full expression. I honestly believe that and admire those bodies. But I don't hate my body, I love it's strength, I love the sensual curves and I also love the hard muscles that yoga has put there (I had an odd habit of groping my own butt for a while after I started my Bikram practice!) But I'm a baby in my studies and I truly do hope to learn more about ALL aspects of yoga, the spiritual connections, the link to God, all the sanskrit words I don't yet know the meaning of….
    thanks for your response! – Alexa

  12. catnipkiss says:

    thanks Randi! You know, we va-va-voom curvy chicks are not "in" in America right now. It's hard to deal with! But go to another country and you are flocked with men who think you are sexy. Worth the plane fare, for sure…. And not only can we do yoga, but our bodies change with our practice and become even sexier. But I can't do "binds" because I have big thighs. And I drown in my breasts in some poses….. Despite all this, I love what I feel when I do yoga and I can't help thinking that it is meant for all body types. My struggles (and your struggles) are bound to lend us some compassion for others who are having similar problems. maybe the "dancer body" girls will never truly learn this compassion?
    Thanks for reading and for your encouragement! – Alexa

  13. catnipkiss says:

    I love the "coach" image, thanks! I hope to blog about the teacher training; it starts in April in Costa Rica (poor me, huh?) I will keep ele posted if I can!!! – Alexa

  14. […] The Drunken Pigeon. ~ Alexa Maxwell […]

  15. Lindisblue says:

    Amen, sister.

  16. Andréa Balt says:

    Raw & Funny! Loved it..

    If you're in Madrid we should meet up and suck at yoga poses together. 🙂

  17. catnipkiss says:

    I spent some time this fall in Madrid (and I miss it, so maybe I will be back!!) I did some Bikram classes there (look up my article "Liking it Hot in Madrid" on ele….) I know I would love meeting you some day!! – Alexa

  18. nadinefawell says:

    Man, I'd love to meet your pigeon. I suspect she'd be the, er, SOUL of the party!


  19. […] make me dance. Can’t possibly be still. And there are times when I absolutely have to be in Pigeon Pose and get out whatever seems to be stuck in my sacral chakra. There are times when without even […]

  20. […] am not a yoga show-off, rocking all the poses (check out my other articles, “Drunken Pigeon” and “Fear of Downward Dog”). I don’t think I know any better than anyone else the […]

  21. […] to express, to breathe embodied life into creativity and share it wholeheartedly with the world. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, my favorite hip opening posture, evolved on my paper saying open hips, open heart. So much is […]

  22. […] haven’t heard any talk about that G word. In fact, many may retreat into silently crying in Half Pigeon pose, in the bathroom at work, or at the store, pausing to look at something while secretly shedding a […]

  23. Surprise! You really covered this subject well. Are there other options that i’ll must examine out?

  24. Franny says:

    It's sad that there is the envy of a yoga body and yoga poses. Why are you equating a thin blonde body as better than say a busty curvy Latina or black woman. Indian women are naturally curvy and honey there ain't anorexic blondes in lulu lemon doing yoga in India anyways. The entire yoga scene with set poses and judging of bodies seems like group think masochism. Are we so stupid to be brainwashed?! Yoga is too sacred for me to do in public . It needs to be completely compassionate and nurturing and its all about me and my yoga an not doing one dumb pose.