In today’s Visual Yoga Blog we take that tried-and-true pose, Royal Pigeon, and give it a little twist… literally.
Why mess with a good thing like Pigeon pose? Well, because some folks find the full Pigeon a tad outside their range of motion, and the Reclining Helix adds a nice spinal release to the mix.
So, without further ado:
1. Sit on your mat and swing your left leg back as pictured. Not just any backward: walk that leg, knee and foot to the point of gentle stretch.
2. Supporting yourself on your hands so you’re propped up tall, spin your head and trunk to your right. Stay for three slow breaths.
3. Now turn to your left and rest your right shoulder on your right knee, and your arm on your right shin. (Here are two views to clarify this.)
4. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling, really reaching through, and rest your left hand against your low back (or hip, or inner right thigh, if you want). Revolve your head and chest up, and quite thoroughly so as to create a spiraling effect from your low back to your head. Stay for three long breaths.
5. Turn your head to look down (so as to relax the neck) and stay for another three slow breaths. Then repeat all five steps on the left side.
Benefits: A deep and restful hip joint opener that also gently stretches the back and the neck.
Avoid if: Depending on their range of motion, sometimes people need (starting in step 3 above) to rest their elbow on the floor/mat rather than their shoulder on their knee. If you need to make that adjustment as an interim stage, go for it: you’ll still have plenty of spine rotation. Other than that, if your hips hurt while in this pose, skip it; and if your neck hurts, use a yoga block underneath your head to support the head and hence relax the neck.
Final thoughts: Coming out of this pose, some people look like they were working on their sleep deprivation issues. Hence the alternative name for this asana is “The Catnap Pose.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Courtesy of Author