Svarga DvijasanaWe have so many things to celebrate… our anniversary, more classes, spring... it’s like Paradise around here! That’s why we are rockin Svarga Dvijasana or Bird of Paradise, our yoga pose of the month. So let all your colors (and body) shine like this beautiful flower as this posture asks that you employ all of your abilities (concentration, balance, flexibility and strength) in order to blossom into the full expression of this vibrant yoga posture!
How to get into Svarga Dvijasana safely:
1. Begin in extended side angle with the right leg forward.
2. Send your right arm underneath your right thigh as if you are actively reaching for the back wall with your right hand. Bend your right elbow around the back of your right leg and place the top of your right hand on your lower back (palm facing upwards) Reach your left arm behind you and clasp your hands together, now you are in a bind.
3. Keep your gaze focused on one fixed point on the ground in front of you and start to walk your left leg up to meet the right as if you are coming into a bound chair pose.
4. Come to the ball of your right foot, and begin to shift your weight fully into your left foot.
5. On an inhale, slowly begin to come upright to stand, maintaining the bind around the right leg.
Once you’ve come up to stand, take a breath here, finding your balance and strength. If you feel steady, begin to extend your right leg fully and flex your right foot.
6. To come out of the pose, bend your right knee and begin to drop the right foot back down to the mat. Start to walk the left foot back so that you return back into extended side angle and gently release. Whenever you feel ready, repeat on the other side.
To modify or go deeper into the pose:
Modified variation: If the shoulders are tight, you can modify this posture by using a strap for your bind. Additionally, if the hamstrings are feeling tight you can keep the lifted leg bent. You can also take this variation with a use of a wall. Standing sideways to a wall, take closest standing leg as high up the wall as it will comfortably go with the toes facing up towards the ceiling. The hip, knee, and ankle should all be in the same line while the hip of the standing leg is still facing perpendicular to the wall with the knee and ankle in the same line. You can stay here working this opening or you might begin to walk the leg further up the wall until you can start to work with a bind (with or without a strap).
Advanced variation: Once in this advanced posture you can begin to fine tune your alignment. Notice if your upper body begins to collapse and get pulled forward by the bind here, actively press both of your shoulders back and maintain a sense of openness through the chest. Continue to root down firmly through the standing leg and work on straightening the lifted leg up towards the sky.
Cautions and Contraindications:
This is intense on the pelvis, hips, and hamstrings. Avoid if you have any current or recent injuries in those areas. Keep the muscles of your legs and shoulders engaged at all times to avoid injury.