Kathryn Budig Yoga Challenge Pose: Dwi Pada Koundinyasana Arm Balance - Yoga Journal

Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Dwi Pada Koundinyasana

Kathryn Budig breaks down this gorgeous, core-busting two-legged version of the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya.
kathryn budig dwi pada koundinyasana

Kathryn Budig breaks down this gorgeous, core-busting two-legged version of the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya.

I was all geared up to prepare a new challenge sequence of poses when it hit me, I’ve never taught you guys Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (the two-legged variation of the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya)! I wanted to use this pose in a transition but it would be silly to do that without breaking it down for you first so here we are—back at a good old single pose blog.

This was one of the first advanced postures I remember seeing photographed. The woman photographed was beautiful, strong, and made the pose look effortless. I figured it must be easy until I tried it myself and realized that my version didn't look anything like that.

This pose builds off of Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow or Crane Pose) and some deep twisting. I’d recommend doing a good warm up before this pose: Sun Salutations A + B, a few Warrior poses into internal standing poses with twists such as Crescent, Chair, and spend some good long holds in lunges or Hanumanasana prep. The warmer your core muscles are, the more accessible this pose will become. Once you’ve done your warm up, dive in and enjoy!

Step 1

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Lie on your back with both straight up in the air. Keep your legs together and extend through the balls of your feet just like Barbie (point your foot but curl back through your toes). Take your arms wide in line with your shoulders onto the ground so that your palms are flat. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears and do your best to keep them evenly rooted. Inhale first, then on your exhale lower your legs as a team down and toward your right hand as if eventually your toes could touch your fingers without bending or separating your legs. As you lower you’ll notice your opposite shoulder wanting to bubble up. Keep that shoulder grounding to connect with your core. Use your inhale to bring the legs back up to center then repeat on your exhale reaching the toes towards your left fingertips. Keep in mind you might start off only lowering a third of the way and that’s totally fine. Take it to the level that’s challenging for you and not beyond that. If you’re totally losing your balance and collapsing to the side, you’re taking it too far. Make sure you can still control your actions and move from your core. This will prep us for the shape and control needed in Dwi Pada Koundinyasana.

Step 2

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Begin in a bent-knee Navasana (Boat Pose) balancing on the tripod of your sit bones and tailbone. Elevate your shins so they are parallel with the ground. Interlace your all your fingers together except your index finger and thumbs and swing your arms to the outside of your right thigh. Try to connect the space between your thighs and chest by pulling together. Keep your outer left arm touching your right thigh, and explore straightening just your right leg up toward the ceiling. Do the same with your left leg. If that’s going well, try straightening your legs as a team. Don’t forget to breathe! Keep your inner thighs and knees hugging at all times, and your chest high as possible. Come back to neutral and repeat on the other side.

Step 3

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NOTE: Side Crow is the precursor to Dwi Pada Koundinyasana, so take your time to tackle this Challenge Pose first.

Step 4

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As you set yourself up for Side Crane on your left arm, notice if your knees and feet are stacked. There is a tendency for them to be uneven, so just take a moment to line them up before you lift into the arm balance. Twist as deep as you comfortably can working your right knee/thigh area to the upper outer edge of your left arm. The goal is to bring the upper arm and hip closer together—the deeper the twist the easier the staying power. Bend both elbows into a full Chaturanga stance, keeping the elbows over the wrists and letting your shoulders drop down evenly in line with your elbows. Keep the gaze forward. Sweep your feet off the ground bringing your feet in line with your knees so that your shins are parallel with the mat. Begin to hug your thighs together as if you were trying to grill a panini! Extend your legs toward straight, hinging from your knees. As you extend continue to think of drawing the tops of your thighs into your armpit. Spread your toes enthusiastically!

Try a slight extension in the beginning, working toward full straight legs, but DO NOT let your arms straighten. This will give you the firepole effect and you’ll slide to the ground. Stay in a nice, full Chaturanga and round your upper back just like you would in Crane Pose. It will also be tempting to look at your feet, but this throws off the balance in your shoulders and often makes the opposite shoulder slump down. We don’t want that! You can prevent shoulder collapsing by gazing forward and extending your heart.

NOTE: Balancing on one arm versus two: The full pose just like Side Crow, will eventually only be on one arm. What allows this to happen is a deeper twist. If you’re working on your twist practice feel free to start on both elbows taking the extra outer elbow underneath your hip. As you feel stronger and deeper in your twist, try to explore what it’s like to only balance on the inner arm.


Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga. Follow her on TwitterFacebookInstagram or on her website.

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