Advanced Challenge Poses

3 Steps to Move Gracefully into Revolved Bird of Paradise

Feeling up to it? Try yoga teacher Claire Missingham's tips for moving into Parivrtta Svarga Dvijasana.

Claire Missingham

Find freedom in your shoulders, hips, and hamstrings, and a renewed sense of balance and beauty, with this challenging variation of Bird of Paradise.

Step 1: Start with these Prep Poses

Claire Missingham’s 4 prep poses for standard Bird of Paradise

Step 2: Transition into Bird of Paradise

Move on to Bird of Paradise: 5 Steps to Master this Standing Pose

Step 3: Warm-Up for Revolved Bird of Paradise

The following 3 warm-up poses for Revolved Bird of Paradise, which will help you strengthen your inner thighs and quadriceps, open your hips, groins, hamstrings, and hip flexors, and find ease in twisting balances. Then try the final pose.

See also Claire’s 8 Steps to Master and Refine Tree Pose, a foundational posture for Bird of Paradise, and 4 Challenging Tree Pose Variations for Better Balance

Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

Claire Missingham

Strengthen your inner thighs and quadriceps, and open your hips, groins, and hamstrings

Begin in a low lunge with your back knee down and a hand on either side of your front foot. Then move both hands to the inside of the front foot, and toe-heel the front foot away from the hands, widening your stance. Your front foot can be turned out slightly if that feels good. Resist the tendency to round your back, instead lengthen your sternum forward to lengthen your torso, drawing the ribs away from your waist. To work your leg muscles more, curl your back toes under and lift your back knee off the floor. This will give your psoas, the deep muscles that link your legs to your trunk, a lovely stretch. Hold the pose for 10 breaths, then inhale to push back to Downward-Facing Dog Pose and switch sides. If you can comfortably breathe for 10 breaths, hold the pose longer.

See also Stephanie Snyder’s 9 Poses Your Hips Need Now

Half Visvamitrasana (Ardha Visvamitrasana)

Claire Missingham

Improve your balance and open your hips and hamstrings

You started to open the hips and hamstrings in Lizard Pose, so now you can work on extending one leg and stretching the hamstrings more deeply. Half Visvamitrasana, named after a king who turned himself into a yogic sage, also has a nice belly twist to help digestion and spinal rotation. Come into a low lunge again, bringing your right shoulder underneath your right thigh. Take the outside of your right foot with your left hand, then bring your torso through your arms, rolling your right ribs forward and your left ribs back into a twist. Press the right shoulder firmly with your inner right thigh. Press down through your supporting hand and find mula bandha by engaging and lifting the pelvic floor. You’ll know you’ve entered the full pose when your whole body feels as though it’s working together by pressing down, lifting up, twisting, breathing, and looking up, inside and out, all at the same time! Hold for as many steady breaths as possible, then repeat on the other side.

See also Shiva Rea’s Twisting + Soaring Visvamitra’s Pose

Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

Claire Missingham

Prepare for standing balancing twists

From Tadasana, step your left leg back and turn the toes out about 45 degrees. Ground down through your back outer heel and foot so you can lift your back big toe off the floor. Simultaneously, ground your front big toe mound inwards and down. On an inhalation, raise your left arm up, on an exhalation, place the left hand to the floor or a block on the outside of your right foot. Inhale to raise your right arm up as you twist your torso to the right. Keep your pelvis neutral and straight, and draw your right hip back so the sacrum is flat (not tipped). Twist from behind your belly and upwards, rather than leading the twist with your eyes and neck. Take 5 deep breaths before inhaling to come back up and into Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.

See also Beryl Bender Birch’s A Delicate Balance: Revolved Triangle

Revolved Bird of Paradise Pose (Parivrtta Svarga Dvijasana)

Claire Missingham

Soar in this advanced Bird of Paradise variation

Here goes: the full pose. Come into a yogic squat or Garland Pose (Malasana), then bring your right arm underneath your right thigh and your left arm behind your back. Clasp hands to form a bind and straighten your legs, coming into a Bound Forward Fold. Exhale and look down, turning your feet parallel to one another. Twist your torso to the left, keeping the bind. Pour all of your weight into your left foot, lifting your right leg off the floor until the supporting, or left, leg is completely straight. Keep the toes of the supporting foot spreadand the muscles of the standing leg engaged. The weight should be evenly distributed between the big toe, little toe and inner & outer heel (4-points of balance) on the left foot. Open the chest and extend the right leg to the side, being careful not swing the left hip out the side. Fix your dristi, or focal point, over the opposite shoulder. Stay for 5-10 deep breaths, embodying the beauty, stability, and vibrancy of the Bird of Paradise flower.

See more instruction for Balancing Poses