Pigeon Pose made me angry. So, so angry. Not visible on the surface, because looking at me you’d never know. A quick glance to your left or right in any given yoga class and you’d find me looking like someone only slightly frustrated who had yet to find that opening necessary for all the ‘other’ people in class who seemed to fold forward so naturally.
It was an internal anger and it made my blood boil. Somewhere deep inside me there was a rage that would inevitably begin to form. I’d often find that my pigeon pose would become so overwhelming I’d forget to breathe and feelings of anger would boil over into a feeling of nausea surfacing so quickly into the back of my throat that it was hard to swallow back down. Somebody please pass me a sick bag…..
Vehemently resisting this pose from the outset I’d go into it with my favourite pair of blinkers on so firmly all I could see was how uncomfortable it made me feel, how much I disliked it and how quickly I wanted to get out of it. Given the first opportunity I’d quickly distance myself from that horrible pigeon bird.
My internal pigeon rage made me all the more cynical when I saw pictures of yogi’s made of rubber easefully draping their long bodies forward in pigeon. Never mind the ones in King Pigeon. They were all the ones I’d compare my sickly pigeon to and label myself separate from as a result.
Taking this scenario off the yoga mat and into my daily life I realised that it was an all too familiar habit of mine. An uncomfortable conversation or situation would arise that I had to face and I’d choose to stick my head in the sand and pretend that whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t happening to me. Oh and while I was at it I definitely didn’t need YOU to try and talk ME out of avoiding it, let alone TALK about it. Who ever wanted to talk about it?? I’d rather be off running for the hills. The soothing sound of Captain Von Trapp from The Sound of Music in my ears saying something along the lines of… ‘if we make it over the hills we’ll be free…’
Whenever the tough stuff came up, I had the full cutlery set of resistance in each hand ready to help me tighten up inside and try to avoid the inevitable. Not only were the outcomes of this subtle avoidance not so great for me, in the long term looking back, they definitely affected my relationships with others. Whatever had been ‘avoided’ always came back up to greet me in some form or another.
As my yoga practise continued, so did my pigeon. A seemingly ‘crowd pleaser’ pose it wasn’t going anywhere. I kept practising it and continued to butt heads with it. It just felt wrong. However, with some skilful yet simple adjustments from one of my teachers, I gained enough confidence with my pigeon alignment that I started incorporating it into my home practise. In the privacy of my room I could really meet up with how pigeon pose made me react, and respond no holds barred…..
With careful repetition over time I guess it was the inevitable that happened; the usual angry reaction at having to persevere with my horrible pigeon changed into a kind of response. The anger gave way to something that felt a lot easier, the resistant walls I’d put up began to give way to small increments of softening. With each inhale and exhale a kind of acceptance started to emerge and the real pigeon pose started to manifest itself in my body. Fast forward a year or two and there’s been a bit of an attitude adjustment. These days I’d go so far as to say I quite like pigeon pose.
These days there’s new poses that make me angry on the inside. The pose may have changed but the question is – have I? My immediate reaction to the tough stuff in life will always be one of avoidance quickly followed by annoyance upon realising there’s no other alternative but to get on with it – whatever the difficult pigeon pose, the headstand, the forearm balance may be.
Perhaps my seemingly perennial struggle with pigeon has showed me that while it might take longer, the outcome of my decision to quietly persevere over the quick and easy reactionary avoidance to the uncomfortable stuff can result in a softening, making it possible for a new pattern to emerge that over time, better serves me and therefore others.