Eight Angle Pose

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.

Bend one knee in to your chest.

Bend one knee in to 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!

Get the knee up as high as you can on the arm.

Thread the arm under the knee, and get the knee up as high as you can on the arm.

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.

Cross one ankle of the other

Cross the ankle of your straight leg over the ankle of your bent leg.

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.

Lift the hips off the floor

Inhale, straighten the arms and lift the hips off the floor.

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.

Extend the legs away from you.

Inhale, extend the legs away from you.

Try to hold this for a few long slow breaths, and then balance it out on the other side.

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