Visvamitrasana – Pose Dedicated to Sage Visvamitra
Visvamitrasana is a really tough pose, it requires a lot of strength as well as flexibility. To get into it, your hamstrings and inner thighs must be warmed up as well as your shoulders. It’s probably best to do some core warm ups as well, so that you are feeling strong and stable, Once you are completely warmed up, to come into the pose, the best way would be to come into a low lunge with both hands on the inside edge of your forward foot, then grab the outside edge of your forward foot with your opposite hand. From here begin to straighten your forward leg and pivot on your back foot so that you come to the inner edge of your foot. So basically, the pose looks like side plank with the foot that should be on the ground actually straight and being held by your upper hand. That may not make sense by reading it, but luckily for you there is a photo. The pose will not happen if your shoulders are really tight and you have to have A LOT of muscular energy going on in your supporting leg. This is one of those poses where you might feel the initial urge to hold your breath, but keeping a nice even and deep breath will carry you through the pose much easier. This pose is such a challenge to me because I have a bad tendency to hyper extend in my elbow of my supporting arm in side plank, so with the added challenge you can imagine how tough it would be for me to work away from my tendency. I do love a good challenge though and can definitely appreciate the strength this pose offers to me. I know that with more practice, over time, this pose will become a favourite of mine. The potential this pose offers me allows me to LOVE the pose, but the strength it requires definitely makes it one of the more challenging poses for me.
Vasisthasana (Side Plank) With the Lower Leg In Tree Pose
So this pose is a variation of vasisthasana or side plank where instead of lifting your open leg and bringing it into whatever variation you prefer, you actually take your lower leg and bring it into tree pose. This changes the whole structure of your pose, you are now making your upper leg the weight baring leg and your lower leg is hanging, therefore making your hip region even heavier. This means that you must engage your core even more than before (I would say you will have to double your effort). Plus, in order for your knee to be facing the ground exactly, you must have very open hips, or have your hips very warm before attempting the pose. I would say that this pose is fairly accessible to get into for most people, it’s holding the pose that is the challenge. It also, obviously, requires a lot of arm strength for your supporting arm. Your legs are probably the heaviest part of your body, so imagine the effort that a normal side plank usually takes and then half of the weigh of your legs and just hang it off of your hip… I’m sure you can imagine how much more strength it requires. That being said, it’s probably of the better core stabilizing poses that I’ve experienced in a long while. Try it out for yourself, and don’t worry if you can’t hold it for a really long time! The strength this pose requires and thereby builds, is the reason that this pose is SO difficult, but is also the reason that I love this pose!
Viparita Salabhasana – Inverted Locust Pose
Inverted locust pose, or chin stand as many people know it to be called, is a frightening pose to me. Whenever I have practiced it, I have always kept at least one knee on the ground for support. However, when you Google it, there are some really amazingly beautiful images of people with their feet all the way in the air, or even in a scorpion-type variation. At this point in my practice, I am not ready to try the pose this way. To me, it seems, that your neck is in a very vulnerable position and kicking up into the pose could be very bad for you. I’m sure the people in the photos do not kick up into the pose, they probably float up into it by pressing, or they do it through some transition. If I were to try it, the only possible way at this point for me would be to kick into it, and that is not even an option just because of the vulnerability of my neck. I also do not understand the proper engagement techniques to be safe in this pose. So if I don’t have the understanding of what needs engaging, I will choose not to practice it. I do find it to be a beautiful pose and perhaps one day I will be ready to practice it, but at this point it is not a part of my practice. I can only assume that it holds some lovely healthy benefit, or could possibly be therapeutic if done properly, otherwise I’m sure people wouldn’t practice it. Either way, I find this pose to be a mental puzzle for me and a little too dangerous for me to try just yet, that’s why I find it so challenging!
Karandavasana – Lotus in Forearm Stand
I think that karandavasana is such a beautiful, but is so challenging. Not only do you have to find tonnes of strength in your shoulders to hold you, not only do you need to find your balance upside down, but you also have to have open enough hips to come into lotus pose. That’s right, you have to wiggle your feet into lotus pose while you’re trying to balance all of your weight in your forearms, and keep your balance! But if you can manage to work your brain enough while you’re upside down to achieve all of that, it’s incredibly beautiful. If you read my posts often, you’ll know that inversions are my current challenge in my practice. So finding my balance in pinch is something I am just starting to get, so I’m not quite to the point in my practice where I can start playing with this (away from the wall). I can certainly play with this pose while using the wall, but I do feel like I’m at the point where I need to stop using the wall as a prop. I look forward to working toward this pose and finding the beauty ad stillness that I have seen by others in this pose. The sheer strength and balance that this pose requires is one of the many reasons that I find it SUCH a challenge, but that’s what makes it fun!
Lolasana – Tremulous Pose
Lolasana is an extremely challenging hand/arm balance. To do this pose, start by sitting on your heels, plant your palms on either side of you and engage your core to lift your knees and feet off the ground. This pose is commonly used in vinyasa yoga to transition back to chaturanga dandasana. People who know how to do this pose make it look so easy and fluid. If you’ve never done it or haven’t found this pose yet, you will find that those people make it look so much easier than it is! To find this pose, you must clamp your knees shut, engage your pelvic floor, round your back, and engage your core as if you were sucking your bellybutton back toward your spine. It requires a huge amount of core strength and it definitely takes time to find this pose since it is fairly advanced. I have not found it yet, but working on it is part of my daily practice. Practice and all is coming! Lolasana is so challenging and journeying towards this pose is such a fun learning experience, that’s why I love it!
Eka Pada Bakasana – One Legged Crow Pose
Eka pada bakasana is a pose that I have not been able to achieve yet. I find that when practicing this pose, it not only requires a whole lot of strength, but it also is very uncomfortable in the upper arms. Basically, to do the pose, you come into crow pose and then shift your weight into one arm and begin to straighten the opposite leg. You also need to shift your weight a little more forward than you already are to counter balance your leg straightening behind you. Crow pose is not my strongest arm balance, I can always get into the pose but it’s not always as stable as I would like, so naturally coming into the one legged version is just not in the cards for me yet. The weight baring arm usually gets bruisey for me and I don’t particularly love that, so I don’t practice this pose maybe as often as I should (but I also don’t like walking around with bruises on my triceps). Everything about this pose is a challenge for me and it’s something I need to incorporate into my own asana practice a little more often because the poses we like the least are the ones we should practice the most!
Eka Pada Sirsasana – One Foot Behind the Head Arm Balance
This pose is an extremely challenging arm balancing pose that requires both strength and very open hips. To get into this pose, you must be able to get one foot behind your head and keep it there (a lot of times when you first find your foot behind your head you may have trouble keeping it there). Once you can keep your foot behind your head, you plant your palms on either side of your hips and lift your free leg to the air as you press your hands to lift your bum off the ground. Now, that all is a lot easier said than done. For me, when I get to the point where you’re supposed to press into the ground to lift your bum, my bum feels like it weighs a thousand pounds (it doesn’t haha). I’m not sure what it is, but I have not been able to achieve lift off quite yet, and that’s why I find this pose so challenging. Practice makes progress, so keep working away wherever you are at in this moment!
Kukkutasana – Rooster Pose
Kukkutasana is a very fun pose to do, but is very challenging. Essentially, you get yourself into lotus pose and slip your arms between your legs and lift your legs and bum off the ground. This pose can be very hard for westerners because our lifestyles tend to give us tighter hips. Lotus pose becomes an advanced position here whereas it’s not very advanced in eastern cultures. The difference is how we sit, in our cars, in the office, at home on the couch or dinner table. Anyways, I am lucky enough to have very open hips, that’s not my issue in this pose. My issue is the discomfort in how much your legs squeeze your arms when you bring them through the open space (essentially behind each knee). Once you have this part down, you roll your weight forward until you come into the hand balance of this pose. Now this part I find especially difficult because somedays it’s like nothing, there’s such easy liftoff, other days it’s like my bum weighs a thousand pounds haha! Anyways, it’s very fun to get into, it’s one of those “cool looking” poses and I like playing around with it very much! I love the challenge that this pose presents, but it is quite a challenge to me.
Mayurasana – Peacock Pose
Mayurasana – peacock pose is a very challenging hand/arm balance. In this pose, you are basically planking, but your legs are lifted. It is a pose that is done pretty often in the break dancing world. This pose is actually said to remove toxins from your body because of the intense and deep compression that is being applied to your intestine area. I find this pose so challenging because of the strength your wrists need to have, not to mention it’s quite hard to place ALL of your weight on your wrists especially when you’re in a straight line. Most other hand/arm balances are a little more compact and even a little more comfortable. This pose is definitely not that comfortable, at least not for me! So far, the longest I’ve been able to hold his pose is a good three seconds. This pose is definitely a work in progress for me, but I LOVE when I can get into it!
Maksikanagasana 1 – Dragonfly Pose
Dragonfly pose is a very challenging hand/arm balance that requires a big twist to get into. When I get into this pose, I feel very accomplished because it requires such strength and focus. The first time I tried this pose, I was able to get into it, but it usually requires major warm-up time. The average person cannot twist that deeply without warming up. Basically, to get into the pose, you must get your foot to stand on your tricep and your other foot floats out to the side. It is generally considered to be an advanced arm balance and therefore you must be proficient in chaturanga as well. This is a pose that I cannot get into without adequate warm-up. Even if I can get into a deep enough twist, I simply do not have the strength to shift the weight onto my hands half of the time, and then you get into the situation where yo either fall hard on our butt or fall forward (which could be dangerous). This is why it’s so accomplishing to get into, but maybe practice it with a pillow in front of your face… I love the shape and the accomplishment of this pose, but the strength and warm-up it takes are the reasons why it is SO challenging for me!