For me, Dragon pose is the epitome of the Yin Yoga practice.
Dragon pose is the Yin version of Anjaneyasana, or low lunge.
In Yin yoga, we hold poses for longer periods of time, meeting sensation with stillness.
In a Vinyasa Flow practice, you may hold a low lunge for 5 breaths. In Yin, you may hold dragon pose for 5 minutes.
Physically, Dragon pose creates a lot of intense sensation in my groin and outer hip joint of the front leg and in the psoas of the back leg. Even when I use bolsters, blocks, and blankets to add cushion and softness, this is a difficult pose.
But it’s not just physical. The hips are a major storage area for our emotions. Deep hip openers like Dragon pose bring a lot of suppressed and stuck emotions to the surface.
Noticing How the Body and Mind Respond
It’s interesting to notice how my body and mind respond in Dragon pose. My body always wants to fidget; it’s a challenge to remain still. Sometimes it wants to back off from the pose to ease the sensation. Other times I’ll find myself pushing deeper into the sensation, like pressing on a black-and-blue mark or picking at a scab.
And then there’s the mind. I notice how my mind begins to wander, to distract itself from the sensation.
The challenge is to stay, in both body and mind.
Staying is the hardest part.
Grounding and Safety
Dragon can also be a grounding pose, if you can feel safety to sink into your hips. Creating this sense of safety in my body has been a big piece of the physical therapy work I’ve been doing for the past five months, as I work to help my body move beyond old fear-based patterns.
Dragon pose is a place where it all comes together.
When I notice the tendency to fidget or wander off into stories or to-do lists or other journeys of the mind, I call myself back to the moment with my breath and a simple mantra:
I am safe.
It’s reassurance for my brain and my body that I am safe in this pose. I am safe to release the emotions suppressed deep within. I am safe to open my hips and sink deeper into my body.
Taking the Practice Off the Mat
Noticing what’s showing up and how our body and mind want to react is a practice that also applies off the mat.
When faced with intense and uncomfortable situations and emotions, do you tend to back off or push in deeper?
Where does your mind go? Do you escape into your to-do list? Create stories about the situation?
The invitation, both on and off the mat, is to stay.
Connect with the breath, repeat a mantra, and remain present to the experience.
Even the longest-held pose doesn’t last forever.