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Finding a Spark
Our peak pose is Svarga Dvijasana, or Bird of Paradise. Dvija means “twice born” and Svarga means “paradise” or “heaven.” The aim of this asana is to experience the depth of paradise and renewal within the body by emulating the shape of a tropical flower, the Bird of Paradise. (Birds also embody renewal, as they are essentially born twice, first as an egg and second as a bird.) Few asanas re-create such a beautiful, natural image. As your body unfolds in this demanding balance, your extended leg creates a powerful, energizing spark that keeps you lifted. The pose requires integrity of form and strength, while opening you up to vulnerability, like a flower.
Establishes strength and balance in the legs, and helps you feel centered, steady, and grounded
From Tadasana, shift your weight onto your right foot. Bend your left knee, and move it into the chest. Keeping a long spine, reach down and clasp your left ankle. Place the sole of the left foot on the inner right thigh, and inhale to stand up tall, bringing the gaze to a focal point directly in front of you. Press the left foot into the inner right thigh and your right thigh into your foot. Keep both hips squared to the front of the room and the lower belly in. On an inhale, extend the arms up alongside the ears. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths, then exhale to come out of the pose. Switch sides.
Bound Triangle Pose
Opens your chest and shoulders, strengthens your legs, and lengthens your sides
From Virabhadrasana II, or Warrior Pose II, with the left foot forward, place the left hand on the instep side of the left foot. Ensure that the back toes are turned in about 45 degrees and the back heel is down. Extend your right hand to the sky, then wrap it behind your back. Feed your left hand under your left thigh until the hands clasp. Firming the back leg, gently press your hips forward as your chest and torso rotate toward the sky, then begin to extend the left leg until it is completely straight. Engage the quads and spread the front toes for balance. Bring your drishti over your right shoulder, and take 5–10 breaths before changing sides.
See alsoExtended Triangle Pose
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Gives you a strong sense of where your central axis is, allowing you to balance
From Tadasana, bring your left knee up to your chest. Reach your left arm inside the thigh and take hold of the outside of your left foot firmly. Pull up the front thigh muscles of the right leg, and press the outer right thigh inward. Straighten the left leg, then take it out to the side. Take 5–10 breaths, keeping the supporting leg straight and the chest open. Slowly release the leg back down and switch sides.
See alsoExtended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Archer Pose, Variation
Akarna Dhanurasana, Variation
Opens the hips, stretches the hamstrings, and strengthens the back muscles used for sitting and standing up straight
Sit on the floor with the legs together and straight out in front of you, hands alongside your hips, in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Inhale and bend the left knee back behind the armpit area (rather than out to the side), bringing your left foot up to your chest. Keep the spine long and hold the sole of the foot firmly with the left hand. The sole of the foot should point for- ward or up to the sky. Place the right hand on the floor for support or reach down and bind the fingers around the big toe of the right foot in a yogi toe lock. The right leg stays strong, quads engaged. Bring the drishti over your left shoulder. Hold for 5–10 breaths before releasing and changing sides.