4.01.2011

Asana of the Week: Dwi Pada Koundinyasana

Dwi Pada Koundinyasana is a challenging arm balancing posture in the group of poses dedicated to the ancient sage Koundinya, along with Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 and 2.

The chest, shoulders, arms, and wrists are all strengthened in this pose as the weight of the body is suspended over the hands.  The adductors of the thighs work strongly to keep the legs together and stabilized against the upper arm.  The internal organs are given a massage and the muscles of the sides and abdomen are strengthened as the torso deeply twists. 

Enter Dwi Pada Koundinyasana from Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose).  Begin in a squat with the feet and legs together.  Turn the knees to one side and work the inside elbow as far up the side of the thigh as possible (toward the hip).  Brace the elbow into the thigh, plant the hands in front of you, and shift the weight forward into the palms.  Keep squeezing the thighs together, draw the heels in toward the buttocks, and press strong into the outside hand to bring the weight over the center.  If you are floating comfortably in Parvsa Bakasana, press the legs straight to come into Dwi Pada Koundinyasana.  Advanced practitioners may enter from Salamba Sirsasana (Tripod Headstand) by lowering the legs with control onto the arm and then pressing up into the arm balance.

The main challenge in this pose, apart from the level of strength involved, is to keep the chest open and the shoulders level.  The tendency is to allow the outside shoulder to drop in order to further the twist.  Counteract this tendency by pressing more powerfully into the outside hand and use the leverage of the legs to twist from the waist.  You will feel intense pressure in the outside shoulder (that's the shoulder to the opposite side of the legs).  Squeeze the legs together and push through the feet to focus your energy and make the body light.  It is acceptable to place the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart here to provide more of a shelf for the legs, if necessary, but work toward bringing the hands closer together as you gain the strength and proficiency required.

Dwi Pada Koundinyasana Sequence:  Warm up well with some Surya Namaskara and then get ready to twist with this revolved balancing sequence. 
  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  2. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose D)
  3. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3)
  4. Anjaneyasana (High Crescent Lunge)
  5. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana variation (Side Angle lunge variation with hands in anjali mudra)
  6. Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane)
  7. Dwi Pada Koundinyasana (Two-Legged Sage Balance)
  8. Eka Pada Koundinyasana I (Sage Balance 1)
  9. Jump or step back to Chatturanga and take a vinyasa (You may need to reposition yourself on your mat since the arm balancing takes us off to the side.)
  10. Return to Tadasana and repeat steps 1-9 on the opposite side.

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