FULL PIGEON POSE
Coming into full pigeon pose without assistance or props is incredibly challenging, if not impossible, for most practitioners. It's demanding on the back and the quads, and requires a tight core and deep external rotation of the shoulders. The Yoga Wheel takes care of a lot of these problems for you (but please do warm up the front body when doing ANY back-bending.)
Begin in a supported supta virasana, with the Yoga Wheel at the hollow of the lower back. Lay back onto the wheel, as mentioned earlier, coaxing the spine into an even, smooth backbend. On an inhale, extend the arms up overhead, rooting the shins into the ground, and begin lifting the lower, mid, and upper back––sending that energy all the way up through the fingertips. Bring the hands to prayer, and bend the elbows, working to bring the elbows by the ears, the hands behind the head. Be patient; use your breath to ease you in and out of the pose while the Yoga Wheel supports your back. With each inhale, stack vertebrae, lengthening the spine; with each exhale, push the air out of the belly, engaging the core to support the lower back. Work the forearms down towards the ground sound the hands can grab the sides of the wheel furthest from you.
Being able to grab, pressing especially the thumb and forefinger into the wheel, forces action in the triceps and biceps. The width of the wheel keeps the elbows locked in at shoulder-width apart--not splayed out, not closed in, just perfect. Engaged arms means engaged shoulders; engaged shoulders discourages any collapsing into the chest. From this firm foundation in the forearms, the chest is able to lift and open to the sky. Stay here for a few breaths, enjoying the invigorating benefits of this pose. A lifted, open front body, means a lifted, open back body, and vice versa.
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