Some things just seem to work best in pairs. Think salt and pepper, bricks and mortar, the sea and the sky. Likewise, some yoga poses work well as a pair because they naturally create flow. Cat & Cow is the classic “yoga duo.” A fun and creative duo for releasing stress is Pigeon to Half Lord of the Fishes (the Sanskrit mouthful Eka Pada Rajakapotasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana.) Think birds and fishes.
Why does this Duo release stress? Pigeon Pose is a classic hip opener, and the hips are where we hold fear and anxiety. Half Lord of the Fishes is a twist, which naturally detoxifies. Check out this video or read on to learn how to practice this short and relaxing sequence.
Start in Downward Facing Dog. Breathe in, raise one leg to the sky, then exhale your knee forward toward your wrist. Lay your leg on the floor so that your ankle is behind the opposite wrist. Slide your other foot back along the floor. Come up on your fingertips on a deep inhale, puffing out your chest like a pigeon. If it feels nice, breathe out, bend forward and rest your forehead on your hands or lengthen your arms. Breathe deeply here for as long as you like.
To move into Ardha Matsyendrasana, come back up onto your fingertips. Swing your extended back leg around to cross your front bent leg at the knee.Squeeze your leg in close to your body. Keep your tail grounded and place the same hand as your top leg snuggly at the base of your spine on the floor. Inhale and raise your other arm to the sky, making your back long and tall. Exhale and bend your elbow, pressing it outside your bent knee. Gaze over your shoulder and press your elbow to your knee to make your belly twist like a sponge. Take at least 3 long breaths, lengthening as you breathe in, and twisting as you breathe out.
When you’re finished, uncross your top leg and swing it behind you. Catch your toe and release your bent leg, pushing back into an extended three-legged dog. Lower your leg and “duo” the sequence again on the other side. Take your time, luxuriate, and let it all go! Shanti. Peace.
Pigeon / Half Lord of the Fishes Graphic by K. Mae Copham. Video “Yoga Duo” by K. Mae Copham, shot by Robert Oakley in Pismo Beach, CA, October 2018.