What is Astavakrasana?
Astavakrasana, also known as the Eight Angle Pose, is an advanced hand balance pose with a lateral twist. The asana gets its name from the Sanskrit terms ‘ashta’ meaning eight, ‘vakra’ meaning curved or bent, and ‘asana’ meaning posture. While doing the Astavakrasana sequence, your body is bent in eight different regions. These include your chest, neck, hands, feet, and knees.
Astavakrasana finds mention in the 1896 manual of gymnastics and is a part of modern yoga. The asana is a challenging pose that involves balancing your entire body just on your arms.
There is an interesting Astavakrasana story in Hindu mythology. It says that when a sage was inside his mother’s womb, he used to listen to Vedas recited by his father. Once his father recited the Vedas inaccurately that made the sage laugh. The father then put a curse on his child that he be born bent in eight regions. Later in the Astavakrasana story, the sage becomes the spiritual guru of Lord Janaka. This asana stands for the strength of willpower in helping you achieve peace and stability.
To get into the asymmetrical posture of the Eight Angle Pose, you need to have strength and flexibility in your body, especially your hamstrings and hip flexors. To gain this strength, you can do some preparatory poses such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), and Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide-Angle Forward Bend).
Who can do Astavakrasana?
Astavakrasana yoga pose can be done by a variety of people including:
- People who want to strengthen their arms and legs muscles.
- Those who want to make their core stronger.
- Those who want to enhance their balance and stability.
- People who want to improve their posture.
- Those who want to reduce stress.
Who should avoid Astavakrasana?
Astavakrasana yoga pose is a challenging asana that needs to be done carefully. People who are suffering from any of these conditions must avoid doing this asana without consulting their doctor:
- Spinal issues such as back pain or slipped disc.
- Injury in the shoulders, wrists, elbows or any other joint.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Recent surgery
- Cardiovascular diseases
- High blood pressure
How is Astavakrasana done?
Since Astavakrasana is a challenging asana, you need to master its form. Here is the explanation of Astavakrasana step by step:
- Sit comfortably in the Dandasana pose with your legs stretched out.
- Bend your right leg from the knee and hold your right foot with your left hand.
- Bring your right arm on the inside of the right thigh.
- Hold your right foot with the left hand and extend the right leg up. Your right thigh must be resting on the upper shoulder of your right arm.
- Place your right palm firmly on the floor beside your right hip.
- Hook your right knee with the right arm.
- Press your palms on the floor and lift your hips and legs off the floor.
- Now bend your left knee and hook the left ankle with the right ankle. Extend both legs towards the right.
- Shift your weight ahead and bend your arms at the elbows while keeping your shoulders square.
- Gaze ahead and breathe deeply for 30-40 seconds.
- To release the pose, straighten your arms and trunk and bring your legs forward. Relax your ankles and return to the Dandasana pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
Which are some variations of Astavakrasana?
Once you master the traditional Astavakrasana step by step, you can progress to the variations of this asana. This is a great way to add stimulus to your workout and enhance the benefits of Astavakrasana:
1. Hand-to-wrist Astavakrasana
In this variation, you keep your arms narrower than in the traditional Astavakrasana pose. Your entire weight gets balanced on one wrist with the other palm holding the balancing wrist.
2. Hand-to-chin Astavakrasana
This variation is performed by keeping the right elbow on the floor before you lift your body. Then place the right palm on your chin and use the strength of your left arm to lift your body.
What are the benefits of Astavakrasana?
The Eight Angle Pose has great benefits for not just your physical health, but also for your mental health.
Here are some great reasons to include the Eight Angle Pose Yoga in your workout routine:
- Astavakrasana is an excellent asana to strengthen your lower body and build better balance and stability.
- One of the most important benefits of Astavakrasana is that it improves your arm strength. By training you to balance your body weight on your arms, it gives you bigger biceps and better functionality.
- Since lifting your legs off the floor and extending them to one side uses a good amount of core strength, this asana balances your body against gravity. This promotes overall endurance.
- Astavakrasana helps you tone your abdomen. This prevents obesity-related diseases such as that of the heart and kidneys.
- Since this asana doesn’t require an elaborate setup, you can easily include it in your home workouts.
How to do Astavakrasana safely?
Here are some tips to keep in mind while doing Eight Angle Pose yoga:
- Never start this pose without learning it from an experienced trainer or by joining online yoga classes. This is essential to prevent injuries.
- Never overstretch yourself while doing this asana, especially during yoga for beginners.
- If you feel pain or dizziness anytime while doing Astavakrasana, stop immediately.
- Start your practice slow and build up gradually. Never rush into holding the pose for long.
- When you master a complicated pose like Astavakrasana, it boosts positivity and self-confidence.
- To make this pose easier, use props such as a bolster, cushion, or yoga block.
- Assume the posture slowly. Don’t make quick movements or jerk your limbs during the Astavakrasana sequence.
Eight Angle Pose, once mastered, is extremely beneficial for your health. Not just this, this asana also frees you from all the mental barriers that you might have.
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