Stay rooted and find extension to lift step-by-step into ‘Flying Scissors’ pose, the One-Footed Pose dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I.
However before we can fly, we have to build our foundation. Develop the key actions for practicing this challenging arm balance through more common vinyasa yoga poses. The following sequence of poses will unlock the physical restrictions and enable you move into one of the most fun arm balances in yoga.
Warm up sufficiently with a few sun salutations in preparing for this sequence of poses to progress to flying scissors. After your sun salutations stand in mountain pose and engage your legs, activating your thighs to lift the knees. This ability to tone the thighs is important for the next standing pose, revolved triangle and for gaining levity in your exploration of the arm balances to come.
Revolved Triangle pose helps develop balance, builds strength in the core and legs, plus improves concentration. This standing twist loosens the back muscles and awakens our hips & hamstrings, all of which is critical for Koundinyasana. Stay for 5 breaths on each side.
Four-limbed Staff pose, aka Chaturanga Dandasana, which is practiced in the flow of sun salutations is a challenging asana and a good benchmark for seeing if we’re ready for arm balance practice. The pose builds strength just about everywhere, and it helps set up the arms to be the foundation of postures to come. Focus on keeping the elbows shoulder-width and try to bend them to 90 degrees. It’s physically demanding, but don’t neglect the breath. Attempt to hold the pose anywhere from 2-5 breaths, place the knees down if you need.
Crane pose is the foundational arm balance, and generally the first one learned by most practitioners. It is rewarding to build the confidence to hold the feet up and stand on your hands for the first time. For in-depth instruction and tips for this pose click here. Gradually build your stamina and hold up to 10 breaths.
Now you might be a bit exhausted so you can practice what’s commonly called Fallen Warrior. It’s a revolved triangle pose shape lying down on the floor. From downward-facing dog extend your right leg under the body and to the left, then gently lower your body onto your outer hip & leg, use your hands or forearms for support and, if you’re able, lie down onto your chest and spread your arms out. (This is the position you may end up in after practicing our peak pose)
Now we’re ready:
Eka Pada Koundinyasana I
eka = one · pada = foot · Koundinya = a sage · asana = pose
One-Footed Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I
This pose challenges our focus and builds strength from the core through the shoulders and thighs. Plus in activating our feet, we are able to expand and assimilate fine motor skills to enhance our bodymind connection.
There are many ways to enter into the pose, all from a twisted positions. Here is a less common approach that may help you access this pose for the first time: From a high crescent lunge, rotate to your right & twist deep from the abdomen, take your left upper arm to the outside of your right thigh. Lean over until you can bring the hands to your mat shoulder-width, like Chaturanga. The legs are mostly in position already, although knees are bent and you can lower the back knee completely down. The hips are lofted higher than the more common side crane entry (listed below), attempt to gracefully ease down onto your left arm. Now, strongly pull your core muscles in & up to elevate the feet. If you are already familiar with this pose try it for a new challenge.
Tip: Use both upper arms just above the elbows as a shelf for both the bottom hip and outer thigh. Eventually, as you gain levity in the pose it may feel more liberating to use just one arm to support the outer thigh and lift the hips off the arms.
Alternate Entry: Different bodies like different things included ways of coming into a pose. This may be the more familiar entry and for some it may be easier. Squat with feet together on a block, then twist to the side to bring the hands down. Gradually bring the weight into the hands and float the feet up into side crane, parsva bakasana. If you can manage side crane, then play with extending the legs: the bottom leg goes to the side and the top leg lifts upward while reaching back.
Have fun! If you end up in fallen warrior pose, then smile and remind yourself to enjoy the journey and not to take the process too seriously.
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