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Animal Farm Yoga: when we turned zoo animals as we get locked down - Part 2

Continuing my last blog on the animal poses - moving away from my forte to something I am working on. This part will be a mix of different types of poses from back bending, forward bending, inversion, to one-legged balance.


1. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

A lot of people don't really think about this pose when we speak about "pigeon"; however, this is the real pigeon pose by the translation of Sanskrit name. The pose is a deep backbend with a lot of requirements from different parts of the body. It is quite a hard pose to achieve - and should not be attempt without out proper warm-up (like I did in the photo as I was in a rush to launch the challenge...).

Pre-requisites: Open chest, open shoulder (arms easily over head with bent arm), strong quad engagement

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start with kneeling down

2. Engage the quad as you lean body back

3. Arms and hands over head and gracefully reach the ground (if you have strong control you can just reach the ground slowly) - still engage your quad

4. Bend elbows and crawl hands toward the feet until your elbows and forearms on the ground

5. Bend your necks to get the head touching toes for dramatic effect :)

Tips to warm up:

1. A few rounds of camels with different variations e.g., leaning back without hands on heels, full camel

2. Bow pose and kick leg back to open shoulders

2. Feathered peacock with scorpion leg variation (Pincha Mayurasana)

Pinchamayurasana was my goal pose last year, and getting into this variation and able to hold was amongst my biggest achievements last year. This pose, on top of a normal pincha, require quite a deep backbend and open shoulders to allow further curvature of the spine.

Pre-requisites: Strong shoulder and shoulder stability, open chest, hamstring strength

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start with dolphin pose with one leg up

2. Kick up to pincha but do not need to get a full perfect line

3. Open the knees and bend the leg, and at the same time lean your chest forward while stabilizing the shoulder and allow back bend from the upper back and middle back - not lower back

4. Point toes and try to go deeper by continuing the same action in (3)

You can also access this pose through scorpion headstand and try lifting your head off the ground.

3. Sirsasana with Garudasana leg variation (Headstand with eagle legs)

I think this is straight forward enough to not need further information. If you can do headstand, and have enough hip mobility (and perhaps skinny legs), you can probably do it. I'm a bit troubled in this pose because of my big thighs haha

4. Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana)

Forward bending has never been my "thing" because of a very tight back body from hamstring to lower back. In addition, my middle split is not very wide, and a combination of that with forward bending makes it very challenging for me.

Pre-requisites: Middle split (to certain degree), open back body, flexible hamstring, quad strength

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start with wide-legged seating position

2. Crawl forward and start snuggling arms under the legs or knees

3. Crawl the hands back while leaning body forward more and more until forehead or chest hit the ground

5. Feathered Peacock with Hollow Back (Pincha Mayurasana)

My newest achievement in hollow back pincha - which is different from the typical backbend. It actually requires more balance than the scorpion legs. I still have a long way to go with hollow back though.

Pre-requisites: Strong shoulder and shoulder stability, open chest, hamstring flexibility, quad strength

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start with dolphin pose with one leg up

2. Kick up to pincha and balance on bent legs split

3. Start pushing the chest back through the arms while pushing hip forward and legs to the front

4. Make sure the legs forward are bent by engaging hamstring

6. Flamingo Pose

This is perhaps one of the most challenging poses for me during the challenge. I personally am struggling with forward bend, and I feel that my legs are generally quite heavy. However, I also found that I don't engage core enough when I get into this pose.

Pre-requisites: Flexible hamstring and lower back, strong core, hamstring strength on the lifted leg (bend the knee)

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start at Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana) - one leg in front and bend on front leg

2. Bend the back knee to the point that the knees are align

3. Engage the core and kick the heel up

7. King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana)

King Pigeon is my latest achievement in backbend and this is mainly because of the shoulder mobility work as well as the leg works from my handstand practice. Here are some tricks

Pre-requisites: Deep backbend, open shoulder, strong hamstring, upper back flexibility

How to get into the pose?:

1. Start with resting pigeon (or what people just call "pigeon pose")

2. Warm up with some hold in mermaid pose (hold a lifted back foot inside the elbow and interlace fingers over head) - try turning toward the front of mat

3. One hand (ideally on the side with more flexible shoulder) grab the toe and flip the elbow up - hold it stable

4. Another arm and hand follow

5. Flip head back to touch the foot if possible!

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