Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

flying pigeon


Depending on where we are in our asana practice journey, arm balances may feel a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start. Instead of thinking about the final destination, we can benefit from implementing techniques and drills that will support actual transformation and the development of strength, flexibility, and mobility. When it comes to a posture like Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon), the spotlight is on our hips. Safely executing the posture requires deep hip opening, which itself requires great care and preparation. Incorporating the techniques Matt teaches in today’s video is the perfect start. However, beyond incorporating the techniques, it’s about HOW we implement them.

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One of the most impactful statements Matt makes in the full class is “Push and sustain, don’t push and forget.” When he says this, he’s actually referring to a glute activation technique, but his words can be applied generally to how we approach the techniques from today’s video.  

Sometimes we receive cues in a given posture or drill, but we then so easily revert back to what our bodies are used to, something that feels less “strange” or challenging in our bodies.

Eka Pada Galavasana requires hip strength to lock in the open position of the hip in the front leg and the lift from the glutes in the extended back leg. In the breakdown of each posture and technique, we’ll see the importance of finding and sustaining specific activations to increase strength.




The Lizard Pose variation and techniques Matt offers today are a great way to start the process of activating the muscles of the hips (more specifically, the hip flexors). This is particularly important in the first variation of Eka Pada Galavasana, where Matt demonstrates the “hugging in” of the back leg. We also learn how to “push and sustain” here. The technique that promotes both strength and flexibility is a facilitated stretch, that is, the activation of the muscles we are stretching. In the first variation of Lizard Pose, we use a facilitated stretch to activate the hip flexors by pressing the back knee down and forward. Sustaining the pull forward is the key to the effectiveness of this technique. When this happens, the muscle will release its tension and feel safe to lengthen while simultaneously strengthening. This will help with the hip flexion of the back leg. If we want to extend the back leg in Eka Pada Galavasana, lifting the back leg in Lizard while pulling the ball of the foot forward will also ignite our quadricep muscles. Activating the quadriceps will support the strength of extending the back leg. 

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Opening our hips is paramount to practicing another important piece of the puzzle: hooking the front foot as high as possible above the triceps on the arm.

With the help of blocks, Matt sets up a Pigeon Pose variation. The blocks are stacked, creating enough height so that we can mimic the “hook” required to keep the foot in place. What actions are needed for this hook? In the ankle, we must dorsiflex and then layer on eversion of the ankle. The height of the block also supports the positioning (flexion) required in the hips.

While all this is happening, we are still encouraging the facilitated stretch of the hip flexors in the back leg.  

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The final preparations for the hips take place while we are practicing the Eka Pada Galavasana variations Matt teaches in the clip. Importance is still placed on activating the front hip while it is in deep external rotation. When setting up for the arm balance, we do this by pressing the shin down into our arms and pulling the back leg forward (facilitated stretch). As we set up the pelvic tilts and the placement of the front leg on the arms, we move towards one of the other extremely important pieces of an arm balance: leaning our body weight forward. Without getting the leg or shin in the right spot, however, we won’t be able to lean forward enough to find our balance.

In his upcoming workshop, Hip Release, Matt shares more insights into creating the required integrity in the hips for other arm balances. 

Register to learn more techniques and tips for your toolkit!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Blissful Hips Immersion

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