Learn How to Get Into Eight Angle Pose in 8 Simple Steps
Eight Angle Pose or Ashtavakrasana is an arm balancing pose that requires a certain amount of flexibility in the hamstrings, hips, and back. This arm balance pose also requires core and arm strength.
At the same time, keep in mind that this is a fairly stable yoga pose – it looks much more advanced than it actually is. If you can hold Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana) for 30 seconds, then you most likely have enough arm strength to practice this pose.
Before trying this pose, it’s important to warm up your body! Classical Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskars) are a perfect warm-up exercise. They activate the major muscles in your body, as well as the muscles surrounding the spine and hips. Always remember that it’s important to properly warm up before jumping right in. This will keep your practice – and your body – safe.
Practice These 4 Yoga Poses to Prepare for Eight Angle Pose
Once you have completed a few Sun Salutations, you can prepare for Eight Angle Pose by first practicing the poses below:
1. Side Plank (Vashishtasana)
Side Plank is a fairly simple pose that will challenge your mental and physical endurance. It creates strength in your core, upper body, and arms – and requires deep concentration. It will help you practice the distribution of your weight as you balance, preparing you for Eight Angle Pose.
How to Practice Side Plank
- Start in a high plank position, with your wrists below your shoulders and your feet together
- Stack your left foot on top of the right. Support the weight of your body on your right hand and the knife edge of your right foot. To modify, stagger your left foot in front of the right for added support
- Lift your left arm off the ground and rotate your body so that your left shoulder stacks on top of your right
- Extend the left arm towards the ceiling as you engage your core and draw your navel to your spine. The more engaged you can keep your entire body, the easier it’ll be to hold this pose
- Find your balance and bring your gaze skyward – and don’t forget to breathe!
- Hold for 20 seconds, then release the pose and repeat on the other side
2. Turtle Pose (Kurmasana)
Turtle Pose is a deep forward bend that builds flexibility in the lower back, hips, and legs. This preparatory pose also cultivates the shoulder flexibility necessary for Eight Angle Pose.
How to Practice Turtle Pose
- Sit on your mat with your feet a little wider than hip-width distance
- Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor
- Tilt the pelvis and fold forward from the hips
- Slide your arms back and under your thighs (one at a time), palms facing down
- Gently push out through your heels to straighten your legs to the floor
- Reach with your chin towards the mat
- To come out of the pose, bend your legs and gently release your arms
3. Easy Scale Pose (Sukha Tolasana)
Scale Pose is an excellent preparatory pose for arm balances. It builds balance and core strength, and also cultivates body awareness. In this pose, you must activate your core and create a strong foundation with your hands in order to lift off the ground.
Important Tip: Keep your hands active and firmly pressed to the ground in this pose.
How to Practice Easy Scale Pose
- Sit cross-legged and plant your palms next to your hips
- Root through the heel of each palm and actively press each fingertip into the mat
- As you exhale, contract the abdominal muscles and press into your hands to lift your entire body off the mat
- Look straight ahead and hold for 10 seconds. Breathe evenly and keep your shoulders relaxed down away from your ears
- Lower your body to the floor on an exhalation
4. Baby Cradle (Hindolasana)
Baby Cradle Pose is a deep external hip opener and builds flexibility in the lower back – making it a great prep for Eight Angle pose.
How to Practice Baby Cradle
- Sit cross-legged, with your right leg on top
- Bring your right leg toward your chest. Place your right foot in the crease of your left elbow, and your right knee in the crease of your right elbow
- Keep your right shin parallel to the ground and bring it as close to your chest as possible
- Pull your navel to your spine to protect the lower back and prevent the spine from rounding
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side
How to Practice Eight Angle Pose in 4 Steps
After practicing these four preparatory poses, you are ready to try Eight Angle Pose, or Astavakrasana! Follow the four simple steps below to learn how:
- Sit down with your legs extended in front of you
- Bend your right knee into your chest
- Bring your right arm to the inside of your bent right leg
- With your left hand, reach for your right foot or ankle. Begin to snuggle the underside of your right knee behind your right shoulder
- Hook your right leg firmly behind the right shoulder. Keep the right foot engaged to help keep the leg in place
- Plant your palms next to your hips. Spread the fingers wide and keep the chest lifted
- Maintain the hug of the right leg around the shoulder and keep the palms planted on the ground
- Pick up the left leg and lightly cross your left ankle over your right
Important: Hands should stay parallel with fingers facing forward and spread wide. Push your palms, knuckles and fingertips actively into the mat to create a strong foundation and protect your wrist.
- Press your upper (right) leg towards the ground while extending your feet forward, so your hips begin to lift off the floor
- Keep the feet flexed and ankles firmly locked as you begin to straighten your legs
- Bend your elbows to about 90 degrees (like a Chaturanga push-up) and hinge your upper body forward, keeping your chest and heart lifted
- Hug your left elbow in towards your waist and engage the arms, core, and legs as much as possible to keep everything lifted
Important Tip: Do not allow your shoulders to roll forward, and keep your gaze gently lifted without straining your neck.
Well done! Now relax for a moment and then give it a try to the other side.
The Benefits of Eight Angle Pose
Eight Angle Pose is easier than it looks, so don’t be afraid to try it! This powerful pose builds a stable foundation and strengthens your wrists, arms, and core.
Eight Angle Pose also builds confidence, concentration, and improves digestion. This pose provides a great opportunity to harness – and appreciate – your own inner strength. It will teach you how to surrender, wherever you are in your practice. Remember to have a sense of humor (face plants are common with this one) and embrace the process!
Also read: 10 things you need to know about headstands
This is a re-post from Yogiapproved.com (you can see the original post here: https://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/learn-get-eight-angle-pose-8-simple-steps/)
About the Author
Ram Jain (E-RYT 500) is the founder of Arhanta Yoga Ashrams and the main teacher of the different yoga teacher training’s the Arhanta Yoga Ashram offers in both Europe and India.
He teaches professional Yoga teacher training, Yin Yoga, Philosophy, Anatomy and Physiology, and Advanced Asanas in India & The Netherlands. Ram started teaching in 1998 and he has trained over 4000 yoga teachers worldwide.