Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Eka Pada Galavasana, Flying Pigeon Pose, Galavasana - SharpMuscle
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The Eka Pada Galavasana, also known as Flying Pigeon Pose, strengthens the rectus abdominis obliques, arms, shoulders, triceps, deltoids, and rhomboids, while stretching the hip flexors, glutes, and outer hips.

Information

Known as:Eka Pada Galavasana, Flying Pigeon Pose, Galavasana
Sanskrit name:एक पाद गलवासन
IAST:Eka Pāda Galavāsana
Pronunciation:eh-kuh puh-duh guh-luh-vuh-suh-nuh
Type:Arm balancing
Level:Advanced
Focus:Arm, leg, core
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Forward
Chakra:Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra), Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra), Anahata (Heart Chakra)
Indications:Hip flexors, hip rotators, outer hips, abdominal, obliques, wrists, arms, shoulders, invigorating, energizing, nervous system, sluggishness or fatigue, aliveness, vigor
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
Preparatory poses:Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Boat Pose (Navasana), Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana), Crow Pose (Bakasana), Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)
Follow-up poses:Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), Seated Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Sciatic Nerve Conditions, Injuries of Hands, Feet, Hips, Neck, Legs, Knees, Spine, or Ankles, Pregnancy, Menstruation, Recent Surgeries of the Abdomen, Waist, Crucial Joints, Headache, Dizziness

Meaning + Mythology

The name “Eka Pada Galavasana” is derived from Sanskrit, which is made of four words — Eka + Pada + Galava + Asana:

  1. Eka” = “one”
  2. Pada” = “foot” or “leg”
  3. Galava” = believed to be the name of a sage or spiritual figure in Hindu mythology
  4. Asana” = “pose” or “seat”

Galavasana is a reference to a posture associated with the sage Galava.

Eka Pada Galavasana can be understood as a pose that requires balancing on one leg while assuming a specific position associated with the sage Galava. The name reflects the physical and symbolic aspects of the pose, emphasizing the balance, strength, and connection to ancient wisdom.

The story of the ancient sage Galava is mentioned in Hindu mythology and scriptures. Galava was a revered sage known for his wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual pursuits.

According to the Mahabharata, Galava was a disciple of the sage Vishwamitra, who was renowned for his tapas (austerities) and spiritual powers. Galava was a dedicated student, and he received extensive teachings and guidance from his guru.

In the story, Galava desired to offer his guru a gift of gratitude and devotion. However, he was unable to find anything suitable to present to Vishwamitra. Determined to fulfill his wish, Galava approached King Yayati and asked for 800,000 horses as a gift for his guru. The king, impressed by Galava’s commitment, agreed to provide the horses but requested a substantial amount of gold in return.

Galava was perplexed as he did not possess the required gold. He turned to Lord Indra, the king of gods, for help. Indra, recognizing Galava’s sincerity and devotion, gifted him a golden chariot filled with the required amount of gold.

With the chariot and gold in hand, Galava went to the kingdom of King Sharyati to negotiate the exchange. However, King Sharyati, wanting to test Galava’s resolve, placed a condition. He asked Galava to provide an equal amount of gold as the weight of the horses’ hooves.

Once again, Galava found himself in a challenging situation. Seeking a solution, he approached Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu, pleased with Galava’s devotion and determination, agreed to assist him. Vishnu manifested as the sage Vyasa and provided Galava with a mantra (sacred chant) that could multiply the amount of gold.

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Galava performed the ritual with the mantra, and miraculously, the weight of the horses’ hooves was matched with gold. He presented the gold to King Sharyati, obtained the horses, and fulfilled his promise to King Yayati.

This story illustrates Galava’s determination, devotion, and his connection to divine forces. It portrays his unwavering commitment to his guru and his ability to overcome challenges through spiritual practices and divine intervention.

While Sage Galava’s story primarily focuses on his interaction with other characters in the mythological narratives, it is important to remember that the core teachings and wisdom associated with the sage go beyond the specific events mentioned in the stories. The mention of Galava’s name in the pose Eka Pada Galavasana is a way of honoring his legacy and the virtues he embodied in the yoga tradition.

Benefits of Flying Pigeon Pose

The physical, mental, emotional benefits of the Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose) are listed below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the rectus abdominis obliques, arms, shoulders, triceps, deltoids, and rhomboids
  • Stretches the hip flexors, glutes, and outer hips
  • Improve hip mobility and flexibility, particularly in the hip rotator muscles such as the piriformis and deep external rotators
  • Build strength and stability in the legs, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves
  • Improves balance and coordination

Mental and Emotional Benefits:

  • Builds focus and concentration
  • Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Cultivates patience and mindfulness
  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Calms the mind
  • Help activate the relaxation response
  • Enhances the mind-body connection
  • Allow deepen the awareness of the physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts

Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose) Practice Guide

The Eka Pada Galvasana (Flying Pigeon Pose) is a balancing pose that requires stability, strength, and focus to maintain the asana while in a state of balance.

It is advised to have a good foundation in basic yoga postures, especially those that focus on hip opening and arm balance, before attempting this yoga asana. It is important to progress slowly and practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor to ensure proper alignment and reduce the risk of injury.

Warm up your body before doing this yoga asana. Engage in gentle stretching exercises and dynamic movements that target the hips, hamstrings, core and upper body. It helps prepare the muscles, joints and connective tissues for the demands of the pose.

Developing a strong core is important for maintaining balance and stability in Flying Pigeon Pose. Incorporate core-strengthening exercises, such as plank variations, boat pose, and leg raises, into your regular exercise routine to build essential strength and stability.

Incorporate hip-opening poses such as pigeon pose, lizard pose and seated hip openers into your practice to improve hip flexibility and mobility. Gradually increase the intensity of the stretches over time.

Do standing balance exercises like Vriksasana and Warrior III to improve your sense of balance and stability. These poses will help you develop the essential focus and coordination needed for a pada galavasana.

If you’re still working on building strength and flexibility, don’t hesitate to use props and modifications to support your exercises. You can use a block or bolster to provide extra support and stability under your hands or hips. You can also use a strap to help you reach your foot or hold the pose.

Focus on engaging the core, glutes and back muscles, not just the arms and legs. This unifying association will help you find stability and balance in the pose.

Maintain a steady and focused breath throughout the entire asana. Deep, conscious breathing helps to calm the mind, increase concentration, and support stillness and relaxation of the body.

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Be patient with yourself and take progress slowly. Consistency and persistence in your practice will bring improvement over time.

Remember to listen to your body and respect its limits. If you experience any pain or discomfort, back off or modify the pose as needed. It is always helpful to seek guidance from a qualified yoga teacher who can provide individual adjustments and modifications based on needs and abilities.

Step-by-Step instructions

  1. Start by standing in Tadasana with hands by your hips and feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lower your pelvis by slightly bending your knees and press your feet firmly into the floor, spreading your fingers for stability. This position resembles a chair.
  3. Lift your right foot using one hand and balance with the other hand, placing it on your left thigh. Extend your arms upward with palms facing each other.
  4. Inhale, then exhale as you bend forward, bringing your sternum to touch your right calf. Keep your hands parallel to the floor and gaze downward.
  5. Lower your palms to the floor, then tuck your right ankle under your left armpit and place your foot beside your left triceps. Lift your right leg shin as high as possible under your right arm.
  6. Squeeze your elbows together and lean forward. Slightly bend your elbows and simultaneously lift your left foot off the floor. Try to pull your left foot toward your glutes, pointing your foot upward.
  7. Gradually spread your fingers wider for a deeper forward bend. Straighten your left leg, pointing your foot in the same direction, while your right foot rests on your left triceps.
  8. Stay in this position as long as it feels comfortable, then slowly release the pose. Lower your left leg back to the floor, return to standing on both legs, lift your pelvis, drop your hands, and return to Tadasana.
  9. Finally, relax. Then repeat the process from opposite side.

Common mistakes

The following common mistakes keep in mind while practicing Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose), so that you can improve your form, reduce the risk of injury, and progress:

  1. Lack of proper warm-up: Skipping or neglecting a proper warm-up can increase the risk of injury. Take the time to warm up your body, especially focusing on opening the hips and shoulders.
  2. Insufficient hip and hamstring flexibility: Tight hips and hamstrings can make it challenging to place the leg on the triceps or achieve the desired position. Prioritize regular hip-opening and hamstring-stretching exercises to improve flexibility over time.
  3. Lack of core engagement: Failing to engage the core muscles can compromise stability and make it harder to balance in the pose. Keep your core muscles activated throughout the pose to support your body.
  4. Leaning too far forward: It’s common to lean excessively forward while attempting Eka Pada Galavasana. Instead, focus on keeping your torso lifted and your spine elongated. This helps maintain balance and proper alignment.
  5. Collapsing the chest: Allowing the chest to collapse or rounding the upper back can throw off the balance and compromise the integrity of the pose. Lift and open your chest to maintain a strong and stable upper body.
  6. Gripping the foot too tightly: While it’s important to have a firm grip on the foot that is resting on the triceps, avoid excessive gripping or clenching. Find a balance where you can maintain a steady hold without tensing up too much.
  7. Rushing the pose: Eka Pada Galavasana requires focus, patience, and gradual progression. Rushing into the pose without proper preparation can lead to instability and potential injury. Take your time, progress step by step, and honor your body’s limitations.
  8. Neglecting breath awareness: It’s easy to forget about the breath while attempting a challenging pose. Remember to maintain steady and deep breathing throughout the pose to stay grounded and relaxed.
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Modifications and variations

The modifications and variations of this yoga asana are explained below, which can be helpful to adapt Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose) to suit different levels of practice and individual needs:

1. Modified Flying Pigeon Pose

If you’re working towards the full expression of the pose, you can modify by keeping the back foot on the ground instead of lifting it off. This allows you to focus on developing strength, balance, and stability in the pose while keeping the back foot grounded for support.

2. Using Props

Props can assist in making the pose more accessible. You can use a yoga block or bolster under your hips or hands to provide extra support and stability. Place the prop at a height that allows you to maintain proper alignment and gradually work towards reducing the prop height over time.

3. Wall Support

Practicing Eka Pada Galavasana with the support of a wall can provide stability and confidence. Stand facing the wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Walk your feet back, bending one knee and resting the shin against the upper arm as you would in the full pose. Use the wall for support and balance as you gradually lift the back foot off the ground.

4. Supported Pigeon Pose

If the hip opening aspect of the pose is challenging, you can practice a supported version of Pigeon Pose. Place a bolster or folded blanket under your hips and rest your upper body on the support. This modification allows you to relax and gently open the hips without putting excessive strain on the hip joints.

5. Half Lotus Variation

Instead of placing the top foot on the opposite thigh in a full Lotus position, you can modify by placing the top foot on the calf or inner thigh of the supporting leg. This variation provides a similar hip opening effect while offering more stability and ease.

6. One-Legged Squat Variation

For those who struggle with balancing on the hands, you can modify by bending the supporting leg into a deep one-legged squat. Keep the lifted leg extended and parallel to the ground. This variation helps develop leg strength and stability while still engaging the core and hip muscles.

Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications keep in mind while practicing Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon Pose), it ensure the safety. The certain conditions and injuries may pose precautions or contraindications for this yoga pose, which are explained below:

  1. Sciatic Nerve Conditions: Galavasana involves deep hip opening and can potentially put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Individuals with sciatic nerve conditions, such as sciatica or nerve impingement, may experience increased discomfort or aggravation of symptoms in this pose. It is advisable to avoid or modify the pose to alleviate pressure on the affected area and seek guidance from a healthcare professional.
  2. Injuries of Hands, Feet, Hips, Neck, Legs, Knees, Spine, or Ankles: Any existing injuries in hands, feet, hips, neck, legs, knees, spine, or ankles areas may be exacerbated or strained further in Flying Pigeon Pose. It is essential to honor any limitations and avoid this yoga pose until the injuries have healed. Seek appropriate medical guidance and consider alternative poses or modifications that do not put stress on the injured areas.
  3. Pregnancy: Pregnancy brings significant physiological changes to the body, including ligament laxity and changes in the center of gravity. This yoga asana requires a high level of balance, stability, and core strength, which may be compromised during pregnancy. It is generally recommended to avoid deep twists, inversions, and poses that put pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy. Consult with a prenatal yoga instructor for safe modifications and suitable alternatives.
  4. Menstruation: During menstruation, some women may experience discomfort, pain, or fatigue. Inverted and deep twisting poses, like Eka Pada Galavasana, can potentially intensify these symptoms. It is advisable to listen to your body and modify your practice to include gentle, restorative poses that support relaxation and release during this time.
  5. Recent Surgeries of the Abdomen, Waist, and Crucial Joints: Post-surgical recovery periods vary depending on the procedure and individual. This yoga asana puts significant strain on the abdomen, waist, and joints, which may be contraindicated during the early stages of recovery. It is crucial to follow the advice of your healthcare provider and avoid poses that may disrupt the healing process or cause unnecessary stress on the surgical sites.
  6. Headache and Dizziness: Galavasana requires concentration, balance, and stability. If you are experiencing a headache or dizziness, attempting the pose may worsen these symptoms. It is recommended to prioritize your comfort and well-being, and choose alternative poses or restorative practices until the headache or dizziness subsides.

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