Last blog we tackled Baby Hopper, a spin on the arm balance Grasshopper. The full arm balance requires a large amount of hip opening and twisting flexibility. Baby Hopper I is a lighter variation of Grasshopper, while this variation keeps us closer to the ground. Please bear in mind that I’m using the term Baby Hopper because this variation doesn’t have a Sanskrit name.
This posture is great prep for the deeper versions, but is also incredibly fun! Students who struggle with the arm balance absolutely love this; it’s an empowering moment to realize the other postures are achievable once this one makes sense. But some people get confused on what goes where and how to lift their bottom up, so read on to demystify this sweet pose.
I recommend several Sun Salutations and light twists before tackling this pose to warm up the psoas and hamstrings (and IT band). Once you’re warm, come into a comfortable seat with your legs straight out in front of you. Inhale, lift your chest high, and, as you exhale, extend your torso forward over your legs grabbing the outer edges of your feet. If you can’t reach your feet use a strap, pulling back and forward/up with your chest. Focus on keeping the spine extended rather than getting flat over your legs. Extend your sternum forward and the tips of your shoulder blades down your back. Take 8 breaths.
Come up from your forward fold and bend your right knee with the foot flat on the ground in line with your right sits bone. Recreate the same actions with your torso from Step 1: extend your heart forward as you fold over your left leg. You can even place your left palm flat on the outside of your left leg with the right palm doing the same to the pinky edge of your right foot. The goal in this pose is to take your right arm in front of your right shin bone, getting the armpit as close to the shin bone as possible. Reach your right arm forward like you want to shake your foot like a hand. Once you have this deep reach, extend your arms behind you, palms out, behind your right hip. If you can’t reach, grab a strap. If you can, grab your right wrist with your left hand. Pull your heart forward and root your hips down. Keep your left foot flexed and right knee hugging in.
Release the forward fold from Step 2. Place your right foot over your left knee so it rests flat on the outside of your leg. Inhale, lift your heart and spine, and, as you exhale, take your left arm to the outside of your right thigh. Bend your left elbow and brace your spine with your right palm on the ground behind your tailbone. Think length as you inhale and revolve as you exhale. Keep dropping the right sits bone down and keep the left leg active by flexing the foot.
Release your twist but keep the legs. Now twist in the opposite direction, taking your right arm to the inside of your right calf. Lean forward with your chest so that you can snuggle your arm further down the leg. You’ll start to roll to the outer edge of your straight leg; don’t worry, it’s all good. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and bend your elbows into Chaturanga. Push your right outer arm into your shin as you extend your gaze and heart forward.
Adjust your left palm closer to the body so that when you bend your elbow your arm is brushing your ribs. Your elbow will still be bent at this point so make sure your palm stays directly under your elbow. Reach your right hand to your left foot and grab the baby or big toe edge (personal choice). If it’s difficult to reach you can put a small bend in the knee to get there but then go back to a straight leg. Lean forward as if you want to go to Chaturanga (this is the action that allows you to lift your butt off the ground). Once your left shoulder is in line with your elbow, you’ll be able to lift the left leg off of the ground. Don’t just think of lifting your leg—lift your hips and core! Engage mula bandha. Keep your gaze forward and heart extending. Hug the left elbow into the body. Voila!
Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga . Follow her on Twitter; Facebook;Instagram or on her website. Come on retreat with her in Stowe, Vermont this October for yoga, archery + outdoor beauty via The Travel Yogi.