Despite how complicated and pretzel-y eight angle pose (astavakrasana) looks, it’s actually not that bad granted you have the flexibility to get your knee up high on your arm. Here’s how you get into it.
Start sitting in staff pose (dandasana) with the spine straight up and down, and the legs outstretched in front. From here, bend one knee into your chest.
Here’s where the flexibility comes in. Thread the same-side arm under the bent knee, and try to get the knee as high up on the arm as you can. If you have the flexibility, you may get the shoulder underneath the knee. The higher you get the knee, the easier it will be to hold the full posture. This position can be a great hamstring and low back stretch, so if it’s enough for you, stay right here!
Here’s where it gets pretzel-y. Plant the hands firmly on the ground by your sides, and try to cross the ankle of your leg that’s currently straight over the ankle of your bent leg. Keep breathing.
And now for the arm balance. Plant the hands on the ground underneath the shoulders. Squeeze the inner thighs toward each other and squeeze the ankles together. Contract the abdominals and as you inhale, begin to tip the weight forward to lift the hips off the floor. Make sure you don’t tip so far forward that the feet come down. Breathe. Stay strong in the arms so the elbows don’t bow out to the sides. This is a prep posture for the whole pose, so you may have to work on this for a while before you’re ready to move on to the full pose.
If you would like to go a little further, contract the abdominals, squeeze the legs toward each other, and extend the legs away from you on an inhale. Your breath is your guide: if you stop breathing you’ve gone to far.
Try to hold this for a few long slow breaths, and then balance it out on the other side.