Challenge Pose: Eka Hasta Bhujasana

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Eka Hasta Bhujasana posed its own special challenges for me--it was the very first pose I shot in my campaign for ToeSox wearing only the designer's socks and my birthday suit. As you might imagine, my initial reaction to the idea of posing in the buff put a temporary lift into my eyebrow and a worry that I was going to feel a breeze in all the wrong places. Then the owner of ToeSox and the photographer explained their concept behind the ad, which is: the body is our temple. It is the external projection of our soul and essense. Yoga is a tool to make that temple into a beautiful offering--graceful, accepting, flexible, and strong. The temple can even be a shining manifestation of the love and energy that keeps it running. Upon hearing this, it dawned on me that I was being given an opportunity: I could show others how the practice of yoga, when stripped down to it's simplest form, is a radiant projection of the soul. I went ahead and shot the photos. After seeing the beautiful results from the talented Jasper Johal--who has the ability to make even a harpy look beautiful--I knew we were onto something good.To me, the photo is a lovely example of what happens when you blend strength and surrender, because this particular shoot required extra doses of both. I summoned up my strength, shed my fear (along with my clothes), trusted in the vision of a talented photographer and company, and channeled the depths of my asana practice, my sacred feminine, and my soul. Then there was the surrender--I had to embrace my authentic self in it's raw form, to allow my image to be seen in magazines, and to offer my heart and intention to each and every pose. As you practice Eka Hasta Bhujasana, the first of our Challenge Poses, I encourage you to summon your own strength while being willing to surrender. So read on, shed your expectations and suit up for a breezy and bumpy ride.

Pose:Eka Hasta Bhujasana (One-Leg-Over-Arm Balance)

Step One:

Keep it simple. Double Pigeon.



Our final posture requires a great amount of external mobility to lift the leg up the arm towards the shoulder. The first step, as far from the pose as it may seem, is to properly open up the hips. Each time you unroll your mat spend a good 2-5 minutes in double pigeon with your head resting either on blocks or on the ground in a fold.

If Double Pigeon is too intense on the knees and hips, take 

Sukasana

 (comfortable seat) and at the fold. Otherwise, layer one shin on top of the other like two stacked logs. Eventually the top foot will remain flexed (to protect the knee) and rest above and slightly to the outside of the bottom knee. Take long, full breaths as you hold envisioning your body in the full pose. See yourself enjoying the process with a sense of ease and strength. Remind yourself that every distant goal grows from a simple seed watered with rich intention.

Step Two:

Time to mount up.


Sitting upright in Dandasana (Staff Pose), bend the right knee into your chest and either cradle your shin bone by taking your inner elbows to the sole of the foot and outer knee, or by a forklift--slipping the inner elbows under the shinbone to hold the shin upright. Focus on working the shin parallel to the ground gently pulling the foot closer towards the body as the hip externally rotates. Take a full 8 breaths here.

Next, slip your hands under the calf muscle and lightly push the knee out to the right, then slip the leg higher up the arm. Repeat this process until you find a comfortable edge in your body. Super- glue the inner knee to the outer part of your arm or shoulder if you reached it. Place the hands down onto the mat on either side if your hips. Point both sets of toes feeling the left hamstring, quad and calf engage. Keeping the left leg highly animated, lift the leg up off of the ground keeping the hips on the mat. Hold 5 to 8 breaths and release. Switch sides.

Step 3 (full pose):

We'll work the same beginning as we did in Step 2.


Sitting upright in Dandasana (Staff Pose), bend the right knee into your chest and either cradle your shin bone by taking your inner elbows to the sole of the foot and outer knee or by a forklift--slipping the inner elbows under the shinbone to hold the shin upright. Focus on working the shin parallel to the ground gently pulling the foot closer towards the body as the hip externally rotates. Take a full 8 breaths here. Next, slip your hands under the calf muscle and lightly push the knee out to the right, then slip the leg higher up the arm. Repeat this process until you find a comfortable edge in your body. Super glue the inner knee to the outer part of your arm or shoulder if you reached it. Place the hands down onto the mat on either side if your hips. Point both sets of toes feeling the left hamstring, quad and calf engage. Lift the left leg off the ground and lean your upper body back. Inhale. On your exhale, use a bit of momentum to lean forward keeping the left leg lifted as you push the ground away with your hands to lift the bottom off the ground. Round the upper back hugging the triceps in as you push into the mat pulling up into the core. Keep the inner right knee in towards the mid-line. Spread the toes. Keep the gaze forward and hold for 1-8 breaths. Release and switch sides.

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