As I’ve mentioned, I started doing yoga at Core Power Yoga. My favorite class was their “Hot Power Fusion” and it was basically the same sequence every time, not quiet as structured as Bikram’s classes–but close. I always loved the part where we got to sleeping pigeon (Eka Pada Kapotasana).
It was near the end of the sequence and I was usually pretty exhausted by the time it came around so for me it was a signal that class was close to over. I think I liked it so much because it’s so nice to just sink in and let go, especially when you’re so exhausted because it makes you feel like you earned it. You work hard in class and then you get to Pigeon and, unlike most other poses, the more you relax the deeper you get into it. Some of my instructors tell you to show gratitude towards yourself for just showing up for your practice and I usually struggle to do that… except in a well earned Sleeping Pigeon.
And then one day a substitute instructor at the gym I went to led us into Royal Pigeon (Rajakapotasana) and I remember that my exact first thought was “I had no idea this was even a pose!” One of my favorite things in yoga is learning about new poses, I was especially thrilled to try something new with Pigeon.
I managed to get my back arm around my outstretched leg and reached my other hand for the sky. He mentioned that to go further in the pose you could reach your hands to touch behind your head with the disclaimer “…and if you give me a few hours I could maybe get into that, I’m just not naturally a back-bendy person like some of you.”
I couldn’t see how it was even possible to do that. Well actually I’m sure I could have seen it if I had looked around the class, but what I really mean is I couldn’t feel how it was possible from the perspective of my own body. It felt to me like there wasn’t anywhere further to try to stretch for…
Then one day in the back of a used bookstore where my favorite class meets once a week, the instructor called for royal pigeon. So I set up my legs, got a great hook around my left leg, stretched up and back and back and back… and I was surprised to find my left hand with my right. Seriously surprised. I was so shocked I whispered “OH MY GOD” to my yoga buddy next to me and he looked over with a jealous shake of his head (but he was talkin’ crap earlier in that class when he got his heels to touch in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), which he knows is a goal of mine, so I didn’t feel bad).
It was a phenomenal feeling. Even better than learning about a new pose is getting into a challenging one for the very first time. We did the other side of pigeon (I’m happy to say I got in it on the right too) and then a few final poses before ending the class. We usually end those classes with headstand and I was stoked about the littlest bit of progress that I made towards it that night probably mostly because I was so excited about pigeon still. I burst out with enthusiasm immediately after “namaste”, probably saying “Oh my god!” a few more times and was so happy to find that another student (who I’d seen getting into pigeon in front of me) had never done it before either and shared my exact same feeling.
What I’m saying is I had NO IDEA that I am also a back-bendy person until I got into that pose so easily that day. I had never tried all that hard in camel before and I usually told myself it was because “I’m just not bendy like that” and “it makes me feel sick to bend too far” but really I was just a little bit lazy about it. Now when we do it every time in my Bikram classes I’m happy to say I always try (even when I feel sick) and I can even reach my hands down to touch my heels most of the time.
That’s another great thing about yoga, all you really have to do is try =)