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3 Prep Poses for Eight-Angle Pose (Astavakrasana)

Work on balance, arm strength, and hip opening 
in these prep poses for Astavakrasana.

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Work on balance, arm strength, and hip opening in these prep poses for Astavakrasana.

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High Lunge

Amy Ippoliti, crescent lunge pose, anjaneyasana

Benefit
Stretches your hamstrings; opens your chest; warms up your hip flexors; opens your hips, helping you build confidence for what’s to come

Instruction
From Tadasana, inhale and step your right foot back into a lunge, keeping your left knee over your left ankle and your back leg strong and straight. Lift your arms alongside your ears and stretch your side ribs up away from your pelvis. As you exhale, continue to bend your left knee until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Maintain power in your back leg by reaching through the heel and firming your quads as you stretch skyward. This pose opens your chest and hip flexors and trains you to powerfully straighten the back leg—
all attributes required in our peak pose, Astavakrasana. Hold here for 3 breaths and then release by stepping forward to Tadasana. Repeat on the opposite side.

See also Why Soccer Is a Yogi’s Sport—Plus, 7 Poses for Soccer Lovers

Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Amy Ippoliti, chaturanga

Chaturanga Dandasana

Benefit
Strengthens your upper back, arms, and core; builds heat; develops precision in your practice; integrates the body, from toes to fingers.

Instruction
Lie on your belly and place your hands on the floor alongside your chest. Tuck your toes under and firm your legs. Puff your waistline toward the sky and pull the heads of the arm bones up, engaging your upper-back muscles so that only your midsection is touching the floor. Powerfully engage your core and lift it up to come into the pose. Keep the heads of your arm bones at elbow height. Don’t round the upper back or collapse in your midsection like a hammock. Hold Chaturanga only as long as you can maintain proper form, then rest your tummy down and try again.

See also Vinyasa 101: Find Correct Alignment for Chaturanga Dandasana

Baby Cradle

Amy Ippoliti, baby cradle

Hindolasana

Benefit
Opens your hamstrings and outer hips; gently tones your abdominals

Instruction
Come into a cross-legged seated posture. Bring your left leg into your chest and place your left foot in the crease of your right elbow, and your left knee in the crease of your left elbow. Position your left foot so that both sides press evenly into your right-elbow crease. Lean to the right and pick up your left sit bone and move it back, then bring the left shin one inch closer to your chest and one inch higher as you rock the leg back and forth as if holding a baby, breathing deeply. Baby Cradle nearly mimics the shape you’ll make in Astavakrasana, a deep external hip opener.

See also Playing With Power: 16 Poses to Prep for Astavakrasana

Want to practice or study with Amy Ippoliti in person? Join her at Yoga Journal LIVE New York, April 19-22, 2018—YJ’s big event of the year. We’ve lowered prices, developed intensives for yoga teachers, and curated popular educational tracks: Anatomy, Alignment, & Sequencing; Health & Wellness; and Philosophy & Mindfulness. See what else is new and sign up now.