Encyclopedia of Hip Stretches: Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose was the first hip stretch I ever learned about therefore it is here marking the first entry in the encyclopedia. I was drawn to this yoga posture because you were encouraged to take the position and hold it for a longer period of time. I really enjoy long stretch holds because they allow me to breath more deeply into the posture and relax my frame at my own pace. This allows me to come to a greater understanding of what it feels like when I hold tension in my body and conversely what it feels like when I release. Essentially this posture taught me how I “let go”.

We can store a lot of tension and trauma in the hips so be aware that you may have strong emotions that accompany this position or come after. This is totally normal, just allow the emotions to flow out of you. When you consistently practice releasing the tension and emotions from the hips it will become easier for you to both let go and keep your energy clear.

The Benefits of Pigeon Pose:

  • Stretching the Glutes, Groin, and Psoas muscles
  • Stimulate Internal Organs
  • Alleviate Sciatic Pain
  • Relieve Impinged Piriformis
  • Help with Urinary Disorders
  • Improves Posture
  • Releases Stress, Anxiety, Fear & Trauma
  • Relieve Back Pain
  • Reduce Chances of Knee Injuries
  • Aids in Digestion
  • Builds the Mental Strength to Endure Uncomfortable Situations

Contra-Indicated for:

  • Knee Injury
  • Sacroiliac or Back Injury
  • Ankle Injury

Let’s Do It:

I like to get into Pigeon Pose from a downward dog. Be sure to practice with both sides. In these instructions I’ll just describe the right side. From a downward dog, swing the right leg through between your hands and then lower your whole body while laying your right leg in front of you. Line up your right knee with your right hand. To adjust the difficulty you can change the angle of your leg by moving the ankle closer or further from your torso. Once you have found a suitable position (not totally comfortable, but not too unbearable) you can bring your arms forward and relax every muscle in your body, letting gravity do the work of stretching the hip.

You can spend some time just hanging out in this pose. I like to listen to my favorite song, which is about 3 minutes long, to time how long I should hold the stretch.

Variations:

If you are not able to get completely into this stretch, use a yoga block, pillow, blanket, or whatever you can to brace your body. You don’t have to be a yoga master to get the most from this stretch. The most important thing is to go at your own pace.

Other variations are ways to make this stretch deeper. You can move your right ankle further away from the torso, bend your left leg and grab ahold of your left foot, and even lift your body up and bend backwards. All of these are different ways to get more out of pigeon pose.

Partner:

In the Thai Massage practice, I perform what I call a “reverse pigeon” pose with the client. Starting with the client face up, place your right knee outside of their left hip. Create a table for their legs with your left leg. Drape both of their legs over your left leg. Then figure 4 their left leg. Create a straight line from your right shoulder, elbow, and wrist through their knee and pointing to their left shoulder. (remember not to place your hand directly on the knee. I usually place my hand just below the knee on their thigh). Lean forward and let gravity do the work of the stretch. For more leverage, you can move your anchor knee (right) further away from their body. To bring variation to the stretch for them, you can adjust the position of their ankle with your left hand. (Do not apply downward or leaning pressure with the left hand).

Interaction:

Let me know how your pigeon pose journey is going. Do you have any questions or insights you’d like to share? Please comment below or send an email to: firewalkerarts@gmail.com

References:

https://www.active.com/health/articles/pose-of-the-month-pigeon-pose

http://harmonyyoga.com/article-1

https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/hip-connections

https://www.doyou.com/how-to-do-pigeon-pose-for-everybody-26609/

Intro: Encyclopedia of Hip Stretches

This Encyclopedia of Hip Stretches is intended to be a comprehensive look at the mechanics of the Hips and how to stretch them at home. As more information becomes available, new blog posts will be released so please subscribe to the blog to stay up to date on the latest information. 

Creating this section of the blog was inspired by a desire to assist clients at home during Covid-19 and popular demand for at home hip stretches by Thai Massage clients. That being said, I prefer this to be an interactive platform. I want to hear your reflections on trying the stretches out yourself. Let me know what worked, what didn’t work. Ask questions that come up along the way and I will answer them as best I can either in the comments or through a new blog post.

We will cover:

Anatomy

Psychological/Metaphysical Connections

Chakra Connection

Static Stretches

Ballistic Stretches

Isometric Holds

Dance Moves

Disclaimer:

It’s important that you check with your medical doctor before engaging in any physical activities at home. Not all of the activities will be accessible for everyone due to medical conditions or physical limitations. Be an advocate for yourself in your practice and go at your own pace. I am not a medical doctor and cannot prescribe medicines or activities. The information gathered here is from research and hands-on experience with clients.

The most important thing to remember any time you are working with your body is to bring consciousness into the movements. Bring your awareness to what is happening inside your body. Describe the feelings in your mind to gain a deeper awareness of what it feels like to inhabit your body. Learn what your limitations are. Bring your breath into the art. Inhale positive energy, exhale negative energy. On the exhale lengthen and deepen your stretches. You will get out of the practice what you put into it.

How to Make Mint Cuttings

How to Make Mint Cuttings in Water or Soil

click the picture to watch the video

Watch the video!

The most ideal time to grow a new mint plant from a cutting is late spring and early summer. It is very easy to make a new mint plant from a clipping. Mint is a very prolific plant that will quickly spread and take over your yard. For that reason you may wish to keep it in a pot, or you can do like I’ve done in my yard and surround the mint with bricks. Whenever the mint starts to jump beyond the stone I simply transplant them back into the mint zone.

Before you start taking the cuttings you will want to gather all the materials:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Small planter pot with a drainage hole
  3. Clear glass or vase with 1” water in the bottom
  4. Scissors
  5. Root growth hormone (optional)
  6. Clear bin / Ziplock bag

In this video you will see me use chopsticks taped together to hold the mint slightly out of the water. This step is optional. You can just set the mint clipping into the glass of water and get the same results.

Now that you have all of your materials gathered, we will first show how to do the clipping directly in water. 

Steps for Making a Mint Cutting in Water

  1. Cut a mint clipping from the mother plant about 8cm (3-5 inches) in length from the top of the plant. You will want to cut the plant just below a node. A node is where the leaves are coming out of the stem.
  2. Next you will remove the leaves between the bottom node and the top node. Use a scissors to make precise cuts and avoid damaging the plant.
  3. (Optional) Tape the chopsticks below the first node to hold the clipping in the glass.
  4. Place the clipping in a clear container with about one inch of water in the bottom. Make sure that none of the leaves touch the water because they may rot.
  5. Set the clipping in bright, indirect sunlight. Replace the water if it becomes murky.
  6. When the roots are a few inches long, plant the cutting in a pot with potting mix

Steps for Making a Mint Cutting in Soil

  1. Put some potting soil into the small pot with a drainage hole. With your finger press a small hole in the center about 1” deep.
  2. Cut a mint clipping from the mother plant about 8 cm (3-5 inches) in length from the top of the plant. You will want to cut the plant just below a node. A node is where the leaves are coming out of the stem.
  3. Next you will remove the leaves between the bottom node and the top node. Use a scissors to make precise cuts and avoid damaging the plant.
  4. (Optional because mint grows so easily) Apply root growth hormone to the stem of the plant. Do this by first dipping the stem into water and then into the root growth hormone mixture.
  5. Place the root into the small hole in the potting soil and pack the soil in around the root. Add some water to the soil.
  6. Place the whole thing into a clear bin or enclose it in a ziplock bag. This will provide the plant with some humidity to grow.
  7. Set everything in bright, indirect sunlight. Water as needed but don’t over saturate. You can even water it by misting the plant with a spray bottle.
  8. When you see new growth on your mint clipping that means it worked. You can either leave the mint in this pot, transplant it to another pot, or plant it in your yard.

Extra Notes:

Some gardeners suggest using a specific soil for clippings such as: perlite, vermiculite, peet moss, or seed starting mix. I find that mint is very very easy to grow clippings from so it’s not very important what type of soil you use. The first year I tried this I used local Milwaukee soil which is very clay dense. That worked out just fine.

Some blogs suggested using a heating pad underneath your clipping to stimulate growth. I think this is a fantastic idea, especially if you are gardening indoors in the early spring or even winter. Again, I find mint to be really prolific so this tool was not even on my radar for this project.

I prefer using the soil method for clippings. Transplanting the plant from soil is less shocking to the plant than transplanting it from water. If you transplant from water, you may end up needing to transplant more than once and that is more shocking to the plant.

Camping During a Pandemic and Protests

Harrington Beach State Park Adventure (Belgium, WI, USA)

Due to the global pandemic and daily protests getting out of the city to reconnect with nature was absolutely necessary.

Milwaukee, the city I live in, is one of the most segregated cities in The United States and emotions have been high these last few weeks. As an empath the energies have been overwhelming. I really needed to get out of town for a while.

This was an amazing 40 mile bike ride to the Park. From downtown Milwaukee the Oak Leaf Trail runs north into the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. You ride these trails until arriving in Belgium where a right turn and 2 more miles gets you to the park.

I tried out some new camping equipment on this trip with the hope of finding lightweight gear for future trips abroad.

Fire Starting:

I had a magnesium stick for starting fires. I found this video which covered all the details of starting a fire with this tool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGo_Pxul1QQ

The main things to remember when starting a fire with a magnesium strip:

  1. prepare your fire in advance. You want to have all the materials ready to burn when you spark your starter material.
  2. Collect the magnesium bits on something like a stump, bandana, shirt.
  3. Protect the bits from the wind.
  4. Starting a fire this way will take some time, be patient.
  5. Practice doing this in a non-survival situation so you are familiar with how it works.

I also tried starting a fire with my glasses. This did not work like in the movies. I was not able to create a pointed reflection of the sun. I think my glasses may be plastic. I also tried the mirror that comes with my compass. That also did not work.

What I would recommend for fire starting is bringing a lighter (or two) and matches. Put them all into plastic baggies to keep them dry. These tools will be able to start many fires for a shorter adventure.

The magnesium strip doesn’t have to be stored in a plastic bag. It can be used to start 100s of fires. This would be more appropriate for a long term adventure.

Air Mattress:

I did a lot of research before deciding on the “Legit Camping Sleeping Pad”. My only criteria was to find something light weight that packed into a small space. It is 57cm/22.4 by 188cm/74in fully extended and packs down to 9cm/3.5in by 26cm/10.24 in. It weighs 1.1lbs.

Honestly of all the things that happened on this trip, the air mattress was the least of my worries. It was super easy to blow up and maintained firmness for the two nights I used it. I have a Tempur-Pedic mattress topper at home and this air mattress is comparable to that. I slept like a baby.

No Tent:

10 out of 10 would not recommend camping with no kind of cover. I was rather naive in believing that this experience would be similar to camping under the stars in the Mojave. It wasn’t. It was wet and cold. I was woken up by morning dew on my sleeping bag and started a fire to dry it off.

Taking advantage of this time awake in the middle of the night, I laid down on the picnic table and looked up at the stars. The view was breathtaking. So many bright lights in the sky, so far away in space put life into perspective.

Why is star gazing so much fun? It inspires this sense of awe and wonder. What is really out there? Why is that thing shooting across the sky? Is it an alien? Are humans alone in the universe? Are aliens laughing at us? Are they considering jumping in to help or are they watching and eating popcorn? Am I an alien? Would I be from Sirius or Pleiades? Does my tiny little life matter? Are the things I worry about really that important? There are just no words for how beautiful the night sky is. It’s breathtaking.

Camping by yourself:

The urban life has made me soft. I was scared of the dark, making up scary stories in my head and kind of a mess. Fearing for your survival when you face the unknown in nature feels different than facing the unknown during a pandemic or protests.

In a pandemic the unknowns are:

Will I catch the virus?

How long will lock down last?

How will this change society?

The fears it inspires are:

What if a family member gets sick?

Is it actually possible to die of boredom?

What will I do if I loose my job during the pandemic?

In a protest the unknowns are:

What changes will be made?

Will the changes be enough to bring peace?

Will this escalate?

How long will protesting last?

How will this change life moving forward?

The fears it inspires are:

The possibility of all hell breaking loose.

More people getting sick and dying from Covid-19.

The possibility of a strong governmental response that puts us into an Authoritarian regime.

Solo Camping is quite a bit simpler. The unknowns are:

What just went bump in the dark? (either a human, a creature, or a plant)

Will that thing kill me? (highly unlikely because humans are scarier than animals and the humans here are all good nature-loving, bike riding types)

The fears it inspires are:

All in your head.

What is the take-away from these observations?

The take-away is that there is a place for society and a place for nature. Society actually protects us from the elements of exposure found in the natural environment. I’m not talking about animals eating humans, but the heat and the cold. Camping with other people also helps calm our fears of the unknown. For these things, I am very grateful for an operating society. I like going to coffee shops and starting conversations with complete strangers about everything and nothing.

Nature reconnects us to ourselves. Nature is a mirror that doesn’t scream back at you. It’s quiet, calm, mysterious, and silently working in harmony to grow. Imagine if humans were like that? Nature strips away all the labels and equalizes survival. This trip helped me put into perspective what really matters in my life. The people I have around me and the natural world. Paired down even further what’s most important to me is the company I keep and the essence of life itself.

How are you recharging during this time?

Please leave a comment or email: firewalkerarts@gmail.com