I just spent a glorious day of skydiving with my love and good friends. We took a road trip to Skydive Perris where my friends explored their 2nd and 3rd tandem skydives while I leapt into jump 36-39.
It's an unexplainable feeling that comes over me when I skydive—nothing can upset me. All troubles leave my body and I am left with a sense of everything is exactly as it should be. I came home to write this blog realizing that a very similar sensation envelopes my body when I practice Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II).
It is challenging. It is often unstable. It makes me reach beyond my comfort zone and it is beautiful.
Basically, I hope that you tackle this pose with a vast sense of possibility. It is challenging, wobbly and not even close to being an everyday pose, yet with time, attention and discipline, it creates such profound beauty in the body and sensibility.
Challenge yourself—blend this pose into your everyday practice and find yourself free, strong and full of beauty.
Start in Downward-Facing Dog and step your left foot forward to meet your hands. Drop your rear knee down and wiggle your front foot forward into a long lunge dropping the hips down toward the ground with the energy of splits. Place both of your hands onto your left quad. Press deeply into your leg as you draw your chest back away from your thigh. Roll your shoulder heads back to broaden your chest and drop your tailbone down toward the ground as you engage your lower belly. Press all five toes of your back foot down into the ground to create stability. Hold for 8 deep breaths.
Keep all the intention of Step 1 and reach both of your arms up to the sky. The body will want to pitch in the lower back so resist this tendency by engaging the lower belly and pulling it away from the top part of your front thigh. Curl your chest up toward the ceiling keeping the abs engaged, and reach your arms up and back. Keep the arms shoulder-width apart and energize your fingers (think jazz hands).
Continuing on from Step 3, keep the upward motion of the chest but drop your arms down. Avoid the tendency to roll the shoulders forward and continue to broaden your upper chest. Continue to lunge into your front leg as you lift the lower belly away from your front quad. Keep curling your shoulders back and extend your arms like lightening bolts toward the ground. Reach like you want to touch the ground, but don't obsess over making actual contact. Go for space and sensation and breath.
Grab a yoga strap and make a lasso just big enough to slip the ball of your foot through. Place the lasso over the ball of your back foot and sling the excess over your shoulder. Grab the strap with your right hand, palm facing up grabbing underneath the strap. The closer you grab to the foot, the deeper the backbend, so adjust accordingly. Place your left hand onto your quad like Step 1 while you look forward and hold the strap in your right hand. Rotate your shoulder by taking the elbow out up and in. Reach your left arm up, bend the elbow and grab the strap with the left hand as well. Work towards holding the strap at the same point and potentially walking the hands down the strap keeping the hips low and the chest high.
Step 4 should create an intense amount of challenge and with time you can continue forward into the full pose. It's important to take your time. Keep practicing Step 4 and work on slowly walking both hands down the strap while keeping the heart lifting and the hips low. Eventually you'll find your foot. Grab hold of both sides of the foot and leg go of the strap. Keep hugging the outer hips in as you ground deeply into the front heel. Hug the outer arms in deeply trying to bring the elbows together as you let your head fall back toward the sole of your foot. You WILL wobble all over. The keep to balance here is being OK with the fluctuations of your body. Enjoy the dance and KEEP TRYING.
Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and is currently writing Rodale’s The Big Book of Yoga. Follow her on Twitter; Facebook; or on her website.