The practice of yoga teaches us ways to live happier and more meaningful lives.  In fact, many yogis have experienced “aha” moments right on their yoga mats!  When you realize that your mat is a safe place for you to explore your body, mind and spirit, you open yourself up to the possibility of transformational experiences.  Every time you step on your mat give yourself permission to: 1) leave the rest of the world off your mat and stay focused on the present moment, 2) release any thoughts of self-judgement, and 3) remember to breathe and feel.

Eka pada kapotasana, Half Pigeon Pose, is a good pose to practice this new mindset.  It is an intense hip opener but also very grounding which can create a safe environment.  (Technically, it’s considered a grounding pose because there is a forward fold in this pose.)  Our hips are where we tend to hold our emotions (negative feelings, trauma, and stress) and therefore it’s common to feel physical or emotional discomfort in this pose.  If you feel this discomfort while in Half Pigeon, don’t judge yourself.  Instead guide your attention back to your breath, breathing in long deep breaths.  In uncomfortable situations—whether on or off our mats---we tend to hold or constrict our breath. It’s really remarkable how a few simple deep breaths can help ease the discomfort.  What a gift!  We just need to remember to use it!

When we practice letting go of self-judgement on our mats, by breathing through the discomfort, it’s a gateway to practice letting go of judging ourselves (and others) off our mats.  The more we practice in a safe environment, the easier it becomes to do it in less safe situations. Letting go of self-judgement allows us to be a bit more open with our hearts.  We practice letting go so we can live our lives more fully and more freely.

Now try experimenting the 3-step process above while in Half Pigeon Pose.  Again, if you notice any thoughts of self-judgement arise, kindly redirect your attention to your breath.  Here’s how to do the pose:
  1. From Downward Facing Dog bring your right knee to the outside of your right wrist and rest your shin diagonally comfortably along the mat, your right foot behind your left wrist.
  2. Flex your front foot to protect your knee.
  3. Check to make sure your back leg is in one long line behind you.  Press all 5 toenails into the mat.
  4. Square your hips to the front of the mat.  Place a blanket under your right hip if it doesn’t touch the ground.
  5. Hinge your torso forward toward the earth (i.e., forward fold) and take 5 to 7 rounds of long, deep breaths.
  6. Repeat on the left.

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