Just what I needed the morning after a leg day in the gym. Just what I didn’t need after a leg day in the gym. Mermaid or a King Pigeon is one of my favourite peak poses in a yoga flow. Maybe not after a leg day though.
I didn’t quite get the full pose in the picture above. Slightly adapted with my front hand on a block in front. Still pretty damn good for me given how tight my quads and hip flexors are.
Mermaid pose involves a deep stretch of your quads, open hip flexors, chest opening and a backbend. Plenty of opportunity then to get it wrong. Coming from a pigeon pose you need everything to squeeze into the centre to even give you lift in the first place. Then to grab the foot you need enough alignment, back bend and chest opening. To put the foot into your elbow so you can bind to the front hand…well I can’t get there.
I have been working on my shoulders and posture for ages so this bit I don’t find difficult. I can do the bind easily. But what I find really hard is the quad stretch and open hip flexors so I can’t get the bind with my leg in play. It just won’t yet go far enough to hook it into my elbow. Hence a block. My quads aren’t quite there yet so the adaptation works for me.
The benefits. Pretty much the whole pose if you can do it correctly. If not then even the adaptations offer the same benefits. So a day after leg day in the gym my legs thanked me for pigeon and for the stretch in mermaid.
This is the part my legs didn’t thank me for. Worse still I turned up for a mid morning class a little fatigued with the intention of hiding at the back. With the intention also to use child’s pose if I needed to. So it was ironically amusing that others had cancelled and I ended up with only one other person. Pants! No place to hide then. I figured I would do my best. Full body flow classes are pretty much just that – working everything. The instructor whilst lovely is not one for an easy breezy relaxed almost yin like class. Pants!
The flows to get there involved far too many (in my sore leg state of opinion) high crescent lunges with chest openers, twists and strengthening moves. These moves mean you are static in that high crescent lunge for ages at a time. Working some pretty big muscles. Breathing is meant to help. Breathing doesn’t always help.
Every time she said “come back to high crescent lunge as it helps for strength” I died a little inside. There was no where to hide. Sometimes you just have to get on with it. Yes they need strength but the high lunges also stretch the quads.
Lots of flows later we finally land on the mat for a lot of pigeon work. Next thing you know – mermaid pose and the foot is easy to catch. Working it into the elbow…possibly harder. Both me and the bloke who were the only two there didn’t quite get fully into the pose. But we both worked really hard to get to where we were. We both were pretty chuffed at our acheivement.
My knees and my feet were sweaty. His…I didn’t want to stare.
Yes it felt amazing. It felt lovely the day after my leg day. My shoulders are sitting better (down and back) and everything feels a little more open. The getting there…not so much.