Friday, February 4, 2011

Side crow and Ekapadakoundinyasana

Side crow or this variation of ekapadakoundinyasana is a good first arm balance to start with if you're a beginner. I definitely got my side crow down way before my regular crow. So I will go over the alignments and preparation for it.

1. Feet together, come to a squat. Hug the knees in and try to bring your heels all the way down to the mat. Don't worry if you can't! You're more likely to be able to if you have flexible ankles. More important that having your heels come down, keep your spine straight and long, back and shoulders flat.

2. Turn yourself 90 degrees to the right or left (whichever side you want to start on). Come onto the balls of your feet and bring your palms to meet in front of your heart. Try to stand up tall on the balls of your feet, feet still together, like a toe stand but on both feet. Let your knees come forward and try to parallel your thighs to the floor. Shoulders down and back, spine straight. Hold here for a breathe or two and try to find balance and stillness preparing yourself for balancing.

3. On an exhale twist your upper body towards the front of the mat, place your hands flat and square to the top of the mat, about 1 foots length away from you.

4. Bend the elbows backwards creating a shelf with your triceps and elbows.

5. Come high onto the balls of your feet, keep bending elbows back at the same time. You should be able to bring your knee and hip bone to the elbows...or at least just your knee.

6. Lean forward. Use your uddiyadah bandha or just engage your abs ALOT. Squeeze the belly in and look forward. Start to lift one foot at a time, flex both feet to lift even higher.

TADA! Side crow!

And now Eka pada koundinyasana variation.
Ok you feel good in side crow? Extend the top leg straight back and bottom leg (the one where your hip and knee are balancing on your elbows) out to the side. Keep looking forward. I sometimes use the back leg to find balance as it touches the ground behind me when I'm adjusting my positioning.

If you're more flexible when it comes to twists this will be easier for you. A major component here is twisting and being able to keep your shoulders and upper body square while your legs and hips are facing 90 degrees to the left or right. That gives you the ability to reach your hip and knees to balance evenly on your elbows. This is also a good starter pose because you can get comfortable with the idea of arm balancing and if you get scared or feel like you're loosing balance you just look forward and you can even put your head on the ground to help with balance at first.

1. Strengthens your wrists, arms and core.
2. Relieves stress and anxiety while balancing.

Don't do this pose if:
You have wrist problems, carpal tunnel syndrome or are pregnant.

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