Today's Daily Tip
Twist & Soar
Now, as you did in Supta Visvamitrasana, take your outer right foot with your left hand and slowly extend your leg as straight as it will go without strain. Then add a twist: Anchor your sitting bones to the earth, activate the bhujapida action, and elongate your spine as you inhale. As you exhale, move your right side waist toward your navel and your navel to the left side waist. Your whole torso will follow as you elegantly twist toward the sky.
Keep your sacrum stable and move from your waist. Feel as though you are wringing out your kidneys and your belly, which will gently stimulate circulation to those areas and facilitate a deeper release through your vertebrae. If you can combine the bhujapida action with the side twist, the cumulative effect will feel like one great "Ahhhh," like opening a window to bring fresh prana into your body. If, however, you feel as if you are wrestling an alligator, bend your right leg and focus on your breath, breathing from the base of the body up through the crown of the head. After 5 to 10 breaths, release and move to the other side.
Eka Pada Koundinyasana II
Let the arm-balance games begin. To prepare for this intermediate arm balance, come into a high lunge with your right leg forward and your left leg pressing back. See that your right knee is directly over your ankle, and that you are on the ball of your back foot. Inhale and draw your awareness to the center of your body—the space between your pubic bone and navel. Exhale and radiate your energy forward through your right knee, back through your left heel, down through your right hip, and up through the back of your left leg. I call this the "four movements" lunge. It helps you spread your energy evenly through your lower body—a skill you will need in the arm balance.
Next, you'll add the bhujapida action. From the lunge, fold forward and reach your right arm underneath your right leg until you can hold your ankle with both hands. Take your right shoulder as far as possible under your right leg. (Remember the suggested hip-and shoulder-opening poses from the "Before You Begin" section? If you didn't do them, you might want to now.)
Place your hands on either side of your right foot. Now flare both elbows out so that your arms are at right angles to the floor. Press your hands firmly into the earth and initiate the bhujapida action between your right shoulder and thigh. Isometrically draw your right heel toward your pelvic floor. You'll feel your lower belly and your pelvic floor lift into Mula Bandha (Root Lock), which will make your whole body lighter. Using Mula Bandha, try to extend the right leg. Press through the balls of both your front and back feet and feel the energy extend through your body. Stay buoyant through your center to prevent sitting on your wrists. For the final stage, shift your weight forward, and your back leg will begin to lift off the ground. Bring the weight of your torso onto your left elbow. Amplify the bhujapida action, and you'll get even lighter.
As you develop the mind-body awareness you need for this intense arm-balance, you may find yourself enjoying—as I did in surfing—a total wipeout. If an awkward, crumpled fall seems imminent, try supporting some of the weight of your torso on your left elbow or just shift your weight back to the lunge. To exit, step back into Downward-Facing Dog Pose or swing the right leg back to Plank Pose and go through a vinyasa. Then step the left foot forward to do the other side.