This week our focus is on Eka Pāda Kouṇḍinyāsana #1. We worked on the second variation just a month ago. For me, this variation is a bit more challenging, probably because of the big twist and the pull on the IT band. It’s interesting to see the different perspective of yogis. Poses that are more challenging for me are easily accessible to another and vice versa. This mirrors one of the lessons of the sage Kouṇḍinya. Each of us needs to find our own path. Each path is different, but if we honor who we are, we can make progress on our journey.
Important components of this posture include the foundation of the arm balance, a high degree of twist, and lots of mobility in the hamstrings and IT band. When you come to your mat, be sure to warm up the body for these actions.
Try these stages to find Eka Pāda Kouṇḍinyāsana #1
Option 1: Parsva Bakāsana. From a twisted toe squat, with the knees pointing to the front of the mat, reach the hands to the mat, just wider than shoulder width. The palms will be flush on the mat with the wrists parallel to the long edge of the mat. Bend the elbows back toward the body to create a shelf with the triceps. As you reach your heart forward and balance the bottom thigh on the opposite tricep. The hip will float, allowing the torso to find a deep twist. Keep reaching the heart until you can gently lift the toes away from the floor.
Option 2: Dwi Pāda Kouṇḍinyāsana. From Option 1, keep the knees and ankles glued together. Slowly begin to extend the legs to the side, reaching through the balls of the feet. Try to create a parallel line with the body from the feet to the hips. This may require dropping the hips, which creates a deep twist. Notice that the foot position is slightly different than the last time we visited this pose. Pressing through the balls of the feet to create a long ankle will help create the reaching energy needed for the fullest expression of the peak pose.
Option 3: Extend the top leg. I affectionately call this variation “breakdancer”. From Option 1, slowly begin to separate the legs and point the top knee directly behind you. Your legs will be in a pinwheel shape. When you can maintain balance as you make this transition, extend the top leg, reaching through the ball of the foot. The top leg will be reaching long behind you. Try not to wear your slippery yoga pants, as that will make this transition about ten times more difficult.
Option 4: Eka Pāda Kouṇḍinyāsana #1. When you can completely extend the top leg, begin to reach the bottom leg long. At first, you might have a soft bend in the knee. As the IT band opens, work towards full extension, pressing through the ball of the foot. As you progress further into the twist, move the thigh up the tricep and create a larger separation between the legs. There are lots of creative ways to approach this pose, try to lower from headstand, or from downward facing dog for additional challenge.
Make your path your own and work where you feel you have the right level of challenge. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.