The zone of proximal development is a concept in educational psychology that refers to an area of growth between what a learner can do unsupported and what a learner can do with some support. The ZPD is the area where we are primed for growth. If something is too easy, humans get bored. If something is too hard, humans quit trying from constant failure. When we find our ZPD in any area and work within that area, we are primed for learning. The ZPD grows over time as learning continues.
As a yoga instructor, I give options in class to try and accommodate for the student’s individual zone. As a yoga student, I am constantly modifying for myself and adjusting to see where I have grown, where I need work, and where I feel steady.
Eka pada galavasana, or flying pigeon, is a posture that took years of practice. It is a posture that still induces fear when I attempt it. I worry whether I “have it” today or not. The first time I did eka pada galavasana, I felt a rush of excitement. My ZPD had grown to new levels.
This posture requires strength as it is an arm balance. It also requires hip mobility and stability as the bent leg outwardly rotates. Then there is the fear of bruising your face and bruising your ego from falling.
For most, this posture requires a proper warmup and an established practice. The path to this posture is an excellent way to see where you are and attain your ZPD for this posture.
Eka Pada Galavasana
- Fully warm up the body, focusing on your hip’s external rotation.
- Stand in tadasana or mountain pose.
- Place all your weight on the left leg and lift the right knee.
- Turn the knee outwards and place the right ankle over the left thigh.
- Bring your palms together near your heart and pause to notice if this is your stopping point.
- Bend the standing leg, noticing how far you can bend while maintaining your balance.
- Lift your arms overhead (photo A).
- Pause, reflect.
- Hinge at the hips and reach the arms horizontally, then down toward the ground.
- Pause, reflect.
- Depending on your body, your hands might reach the floor.
- If your hands reach the floor, hook your right toes around the left triceps.
- Gaze forward and begin to shift weight away from the left foot and into the arms.
- Perhaps the left toes lift off (photo B).
- Perhaps you lift and straighten the left leg (photo C).
- Pause and breathe. Notice sensation and emotion.
- Notice where your stopping points are, continue to practice and return to this posture to see improvement.