Asana of the Week: Bhujapidasana
This pose strengthens the hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, as well as the upper back and chest. The abdominals work to curl the hips under and the adductors of the inner thighs hug the knees into the upper arms to leverage the body up. Combined, these actions of the abdominals and adductors are the key to many of the arm balancing postures, which is why I recommend working with this pose, as well as Bakasana, for those wishing to develop an arm balancing practice.
When first learning Bhujapidasana, enter the pose from Downward Dog by stepping or jumping the feet to the outside of the hands. From here, take hold of the backs of the legs and use your arms to help you pull your body through your legs and wriggle your shoulders behind your knees (pictured right). Then plant your hands down behind the feet and sit your hips, shifting the weight into the hands. Squeeze the knees tightly into the shoulders and walk your feet toward one another until you can cross the ankles. Keep hugging the knees against the shoulders and lifting in the belly to remain afloat and hold your balance. If the feet and hips hover easily from the floor, trying pressing both the arms and legs a little straighter.
Once this variation has been mastered, you may try bending the elbows and hinging forward to bring the crown, forehead, or chin to the floor (pictured left). Engage the latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior to stabilize the shoulders as you extend the spine against the pull of the abdominals and squeeze your heels toward your buttocks.