LIFT AND SEPARATE (figure 4)
To twist, bring your left waist, side ribs, and shoulder around to the right. Place your left upper arm across your right thigh and slide your left outer armpit down the outside of the thigh. Use actions similar to those you used in Parsva Bakasana to maximize your twist and make good contact between your left upper arm and right outer thigh. Maintaining this contact high on the arm and far to the outside of the thigh is the secret to the pose.
To place your hands on the floor, first straighten your left elbow and put your left palm down. (You may need to lean to the right to bring your hand all the way down.) To place your right hand, carefully lift both hips without losing the left-arm-to-right-thigh placement, lean even more to the right, and put your right hand on the floor. Your hands should be shoulder width apart, with your middle fingers parallel to each other. Most of your weight will still be on your knees and feet.
Without losing contact between your left arm and your right outer thigh, lift your hips so you can flip your left foot and stand on the ball of the foot, heel up. Next, lift your left knee off the floor so most of your weight is on your feet. Lift your hips a little higher and start shifting your weight to bring your whole trunk above and between your hands with the midline of the trunk parallel to your middle fingers. Leaning your weight slightly forward, bend your left elbow a little, then tilt your head and shoulders a bit toward the floor. This should leverage your right foot up in the air. When your right foot is up, lean your weight farther forward until your left foot becomes light, then lifts up.
To finish the pose, straighten both knees simultaneously. Lift the left leg until it's parallel to the floor. Bending your left elbow more, lift your right foot higher, and reach out through the balls of both feet. Adjust the height of your right shoulder so it's the same as the left. Lift your chest to bring your torso parallel to the floor. Breathing smoothly, hold the pose for 10 seconds or longer, then repeat it on the other side.
STEP FORWARD (figure 5)
Bending both elbows, shift your weight far forward between your hands until you can lift your back leg. Lift strongly until that leg is parallel to the floor; then, keeping the knee extended, press straight back through the ball of your foot.
Lift your chest until your trunk is parallel to the floor, pressing strongly down through your hands to help maintain this position. Lift your head and look forward, keeping your eyes and brow soft. Breathe evenly. Hold the pose for 10 seconds or longer, then repeat it on the other side.
After you finish a good arm balance practice, you'll probably feel exhilarated, excited about improving more next time, yet humble in the realization that there's more to learn. This humility, even as you achieve one breakthrough after another, is perhaps the greatest lesson these poses have to offer.
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