Before heading into the delicious opening of the final pose, use this low lunge variation to deeply open the
quadriceps, the psoas, and the hip flexors. First, though, do a few rounds of Sun Salutations to build heat for the
backbending, and come into Adho Mukha Svanasana
(Downward-Facing Dog Pose) for a few breaths.
From Down Dog, step your right foot between your hands and set the back knee on the floor. Take a long stance so that
your weight moves forward toward your thighbone, not directly on the kneecap. Once again, keep your knees at least as
wide as your hips, which will provide more space for the hip and sacral area to move. Hug your legs toward each other,
spin your hips toward the front of the mat, keeping both hip bones at the same height and the sides of the waist even
to avoid compressing the lower back.
Once you've established your base, use your left hand to draw your left foot toward you. Reach straight back with the
left hand, keeping your thumb pointed upward. Externally rotate your left arm so that your shoulder blade stays
connected to the back of the ribs. Lift the left shin off the floor and grab the inner edge of the left foot. With the
top of the big-toe knuckle in the center of your palm, pivot the fingertips forward and firmly clasp your hand over the
top of your toes, pointing your elbow to the ceiling. As you draw the foot in, don't worry about how far it goes.
Instead, focus on squaring the hips and lifting out of the low back.
Continue lifting up while you exhale and settle deeply into the lunge. Press your front knee forward while pulling the
front foot toward you isometrically. Draw the chest and pelvis vertically away from each other to give extra length to
the right waist. As you inhale, send your breath high into the chest. Exhale and draw your abdominal muscles in toward
your spine to even out your lumbar and to build a sense of lifting energetically and muscularly, as if water were
flowing up the spine. Feel for that same lifting sensation as you move back to Downward Dog and into the lunge with the
left leg forward.
The King Pigeon lunge is a key preparation for the final pose. "Opening all sides of the pelvis prepares you for a
deep seat and a free lumbar spine," Matkin says. "If this pose doesn't get you started with surrender, we
need to talk."