The other day in class, someone asked me if we could do “I don’t know what it’s called… ‘scissors?'” and gave me a quick demo.
“Oh!” I said, “You mean Eka Pada Koundiyanasana II”
“Yeah… what does that translate to?”
“Errr… let’s just call it scissors” (For those of you who are interested, it is usually translated to “Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II”–which is actually more of a mouthful than the Sanskrit name!)
An arm balance by any other name would feel just as empowering, so let’s just call it scissors and move on! Begin in lizard with the left leg forward and the right leg back, both hands are on the big toe side of the front foot. Keep the front knee bent right above the ankle. Keep the back knee lifted, lengthening the back leg and pressing back through the heel.
If you feel a deep stretch, stay right here and enjoy it! If you’d like to go further, bend into the elbows, and bring the left arm underneath the left knee. Keep hugging that left thigh in toward the midline of your body. The closer you can get to drawing your shoulder underneath the thigh, the easier it will be to hold your arm balance. Now, plant the hands underneath the shoulders and draw the elbows toward one another. Your right elbow can either nestle in under the right hip to help support your body weight, or it can stay to the side of the hip for more of a challenge. As with any arm balance, keeping the arms parallel is key; if you let the elbows bow out to the sides, you will lose your support and fall out of the arm balance.
Keeping the arms as they are and the left knee drawing in toward the midline, heel-toe the left foot to the left. You want to rotate the leg so that the big toe side of the foot is on the floor, and the inner thigh is resting on top of the upper arm. If you keep the hamstring (back of the thigh) on the upper arm, it becomes difficult to get into this posture without substantial flexibility.
Now bend deeply into the elbows, draw the chest way out in front of the hands, and turn your gaze the left. If you shift the weight far enough forward, the back foot will gently float off the floor. Keep the back leg strong, pressing out through the ball of the foot and spreading through the toes. When you first experience this arm balance, your face may come quite close to the floor. As you become more stable, work on lifting up through the chest and drawing the shoulders back.
Once you become stable here, extend the left leg forward. Keep both legs strong, reaching out in opposite directions, to keep integrity in your arm balance. Keep your breath flowing and see if you can relax the face.
Gently release back to lizard and switch sides to prepare for “scissors” with the right leg forward.