Yoga may be difficult in the beginning, especially when you don’t practice regularly. It becomes more manageable as your body gets more accustomed to the poses.
As long as a trained yoga teacher leads you on what to do and how to keep your balance, you can avoid injury and gain peace and self-awareness in the process.
There are many yoga poses; each of them requires mastery. They also vary in terms of difficulty. Among the most challenging yoga poses is Astavakrasana, or Eight-Angle Pose.
It’s a challenging asymmetrical arm balance that is good for the abs and upper back. If you are ready to learn the pose, let’s go over the basics to get this done.
An Introduction to Astavakrasana
Eight-Angle Pose or Astavakrasana requires confidence, balance, flexibility, and strength. It’s a good exercise for the upper back, but never attempt the pose without working on your back and core strength.
Without enough strength, you may likely feel tired after doing the pose. This is because you’d be prompted to put weight on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders when you push up.
The idea here is to gradually develop strength by doing other yoga poses. You can try mastering the Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Chaturanga Dandasana for several weeks or months in preparation for doing the more challenging poses like the Eight-Angle Pose.
As you gain strength from doing the Four-Limbed Staff Pose, you can develop your core and upper back so they can carry your weight when it’s time to do the Eight-Angle Pose.
A Little Bit of a History of the Eight-Angle Pose
Ashtavakrasana, or the Eight-Angle Pose, got its name from Ashtavakra, a Hinduism revered Vedic sage. The name has a literal translation of eight deformities.
Ashtavakra grew up as a celebrated sage despite being born with eight physical handicaps.
However, the sage’s name had more stories than what it meant. While still in his mother’s womb, the unborn child heard the mistake his Vedic father made in his teachings.
His father proclaimed that the unborn child would come out with eight deformities. The words came true, and Ashtavakra was born with deformities in his two knees, feet, hands, head, neck, and chest. This paved the way for the name Ashtavakra to be translated as “eight angles.”
Ashtavakra grew up to be patient and wise. He preached self-awareness throughout his life, an idea that will help you perform Ashtavakrasana or the Eight-Angle Pose.
Preparing Yourself for the Eight-Angle Pose
Before trying one of the most challenging yoga poses, you must prepare your body by mastering other poses. It will help to approach a certified yoga teacher to teach you the following before leveling up with the practice:
- Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padotanasana) and Seated Wide-Angle Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana) to prepare your hip flexors and lengthen your hamstrings
- Extended Side Angle Pose with half bind or full enhanced bind on your shoulders to lubricate your hip flexors
- Supported Fish Pose to open your chest and shoulders
- Chaturanga to build up your upper body strength
- Any figure-four shape, like the Pigeon Pose, to open your hips
The Basics of the Eight-Angle Pose
- Yoga pose type: Arm balance
- Target: Upper body
- Sanskrit name: Astavakrasana
- Benefits: Helps in building self-confidence, energy booster, body awareness, and improves posture
The Eight-Angle Pose may appear difficult at first, but you will get to the point when the movements feel natural. The sequencing is smartly designed to help you adjust and become comfortable with it.
Expect many stumbles and falls at first. Once you have learned how to apply the right techniques in the Eight-Angle Pose, doing it will become a breeze.
These techniques include relentlessness, humor, deep breathing, reaching your heels, core and arm strength, and smart sequencing.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing the Eight-Angle Pose
Aside from a mat, you may want to prepare two yoga blocks, which you will use in the session. Here are the steps to do the Eight-Angle Pose:
1. Begin in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
Place a yoga block on each side of your arm. Frame the blocks at your hips.
Press the blocks with your palms as you extend your heels by flexing your feet. Then move your toes toward your body.
This is called flexion, which helps prepare your feet for the “lock” you will do at the latter part of the exercise.
2. Keep the left leg extended
Sit firmly on the mat as you keep your left leg forward. While at it, carefully bend your right knee until its head is facing up. Ensure your right heel is as close to your sit bone as possible.
Lift your right foot from the ground or mat. To do this, use your right hand to hold your right shin. Then, lift your right foot using your left hand.
4. Keep the right foot up from the ground or mat
With your right foot still up from the floor, move your right arm to your inner right thigh. Use your left hand to support the lifted foot.
At the end of this step, the outer part of your upper arm must be in contact with your inner right thigh.
5. Keep your balance while seated
Carefully wiggle your shoulder or right upper arm under your right thigh. Bring your right leg on your shoulder or arm as high as you can. Place your right palm on the yoga block on the floor to gather support and balance.
This is a crucial but challenging step of the Eight-Angle pose. Squeeze your right thigh and right calf on the upper part of your right arm.
Your goal is to disengage the left hand holding your right foot without breaking the contact between your right arm and right thigh.
Squeeze as much as you can until both of your hands are free. Put your palms on each yoga block on the floor while keeping your chest lifted and your torso parallel to the floor.
As you continue with the step, keep squeezing your right leg on the upper arm on the same side.
7. Lifting off the floor
Move your left heel to your groin and lift your left foot. Continue raising until your left ankle is positioned over the right one.
Flex your feet as you did in the starting pose. With your ankles crossed, keep your feet interlaced and locked.
8. Move deeper into the Eight-Angle Pose
Breathe deeply and hold it. Gather support from the palms placed above each block.
Keep your arms straight as you lift your seat off the floor. Breathe out. Continue breathing deeply as you become more steady.
9. Extending both legs
Keep your ankles locked and shoulders relaxed as you flex both legs extended to the right.
Bend both arms with your elbows toward your hips. Lean over by pressing your chest forward until your torso is aligned with the floor.
As you do this step, keep your hips balanced by focusing your eyes on your front. Ensure that your shoulder blades are at least on the same level as your elbows.
11. Come out of the Eight-Angle Pose
To start coming out of the pose, lift your chest and straighten your arms. Bend your knees while your ankles are still locked. Move until your heels are back on your seat.
Gradually unlock your ankles and extend your left leg to your starting pose. Lower your seat to the floor.
Then, disengage your right leg from your right arm. Return to your starting yoga pose, and rest your core.
Once you have fully rested, repeat the same steps of this challenging pose on the other side.
Eight-Angle Pose may be tough initially, but with the right coach, it will be a breeze and even fun. This is why choosing the best yoga classes singapore is important.
At Sweatbox Yoga, we will make everything easier and more enjoyable. Your safety is our priority, so we will design each pose and every yoga session according to your flexibility. Come, pay a visit, and make your yoga experience exciting and rewarding.