What’s the deal with pigeon pose? It feels really good for the first 10 seconds. And then it starts to get really uncomfortable. The urge to move and shift is real. That’s when the learning begins.

When I think I’m all nice and relaxed, my hip will tighten, or my shoulders will tense, and I inevitably have to check my ego and return to my breath. Pigeon teaches us the difference between pain and discomfort. If you are in pain, absolutely move, shift, try a supine version. If, however, what you’re feeling is discomfort, can you practice being present with it? If it’s too much to handle, can you sit for one more breath before you move? How about one more after that, then one more? By practicing just one more breath, you learn to let discomfort be present in your life. And as you breathe into your hips or your shoulders, or wherever is tight, you let go just a little bit. And for a few moments, the discomfort is gone. There may even be a sense of ease.

But often, the discomfort returns, your hip or glute cramps up, and you’e right back where you were a minute ago. Except you’re not, because this is a new discomfort, because it’s present, not in the past.

And through it all, we breathe. Pigeon pose also gives you an opportunity to see how your mind works in uncomfortable situations. Does it race around (this sucks, this is uncomfortable, I hate this, this is the worst, why am I even here, this hurts too much, I have to move), or does it focus on one thing (my hip hurts, my hip hurts, my hip hurts)? Can you see those thoughts with loyalty and non-judgement? Can you let them be without trying to change them? Or do you berate yourself for them, telling yourself you should be better, you should calm down, you’re not good enough?
This back and forth conversation between comfort and discomfort is a great metaphor for life. Things will go smoothly for a while, but then they change and get uncomfortable. If you can learn to let that discomfort in and not fight it, it may go away for a while and you can find peace. But then it will return, maybe in a different form.

And if we learn to breathe through it, well, I call that living.