October: Astavakrasana or Elephant Pose

For October we are going to back to arm balances! Astavakrasana or Eight Angle Pose is a great pose for strengthening your core, upper body and wrists. It also aids digestion and relieves stress and anxiety while helping you hone your focus and find your balance. As this is an advanced posture, there are many poses that you can practice to work up to it such as Cradle Pose or Elephant Trunk Pose. These poses are a great way to warm up your core, hips, hamstrings and lower back for Astavakrasana, as you should never practice this without warming up first.

Cradle Pose:

  1. Come to a seat with your legs straight out in front of you and a straight spine (Staff Pose).

  2. While leaving your left leg straight, lift your right knee up towards your chest.

  3. Open your hip out to the right and hook your knee into the crook of your right elbow.

  4. Subsequently, you will hook your right foot into the crook of your left elbow and interlock your fingers in front of your leg.

  5. Sit up tall, suck in your stomach and gently pull your leg closer into your body.

  6. Hold for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Elephant Trunk Pose:

  1. Return to your Staff Pose.

  2. Bend your right knee into your chest and place your right foot on the ground in front of you, keeping your left leg straight out in front of you.

  3. Wiggle your right foot out to the right, bend your torso forward and weave your right shoulder under your right knee.

  4. Place your right hand on the ground with your fingertips pointing forward and place your left hand on the ground on the outside of your left hip with your fingertips facing forward.

  5. Hug your right knee over your right tricep and engage all of your core muscles.

  6. Press your palms firmly into the ground and lift your hips and leg off the ground while pressing your shoulders down away from your ears.

  7. Keep your left leg straight and engaged and both sets of toes pointed.

  8. Hold for a few breaths and then gently sit your hips back onto the ground.

  9. Repeat on the other side.

  10. Note: If you want, you can also practice an Elevated Staff Pose to help wake up your core muscles. Simply sit in your staff pose, place a block under each hand on either side of your hips, engage your core muscles and lift your hips and legs off of the ground, keeping your legs straight out in front of you and your shoulders down away from your ears.

Astavakrasana/Eight Angle Pose:

  1. Once again, return to your Staff Pose.

  2. Bring your right knee in close to your chest while keeping your left left straight and your left foot flexed.

  3. Just like in Elephant Trunk Pose, hook your right shoulder under your right arm and hug your right knee over your right tricep.

  4. Press your hands firmly into the ground and lift your hips and legs into the air pressing your shoulders down away from your ears.

  5. Lean your torso forward, bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle and sweep your left leg over to the right side of your body and hook your ankles, hovering them over the ground.

  6. Squeeze your right arm in between your thighs as your straighten your legs as much as you can out to the right.

  7. Make sure you keep your gaze on one spot in front of you to help keep your balance and tighten all of your core muscles, sucking in your stomach, keeping all of your muscles engaged.

  8. Hold for a few breaths and slowly release your ankles to come out of the pose.

  9. Rest for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.

Always remember to take it step by step and listen to your body. If Astavakrasana is too much, you are welcome to stick with the warm up postures until you are ready. It’s not about the asana destination, it’s about the journey.

 

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