Eight Angle Pose Yoga Flow: Build Upper Body Strength + Open Your Hips
Welcome to week four of the arm balance series, wooooo, we’ve been working hard tribe, and today the work continues. Welcome to your weekly yoga video where we’ll focus on –
Eight Angle Pose
…… or in proper yogic terms, astravakasana.
This arm balance is like the many others we’ve done thus far, it looks so damn cool, requires strength + flexibility, and most importantly, coordination and confidence.
Often times we posses the strength/flexibility, but simply don’t understand where to put this body part, how to stack this one atop the other, when to move one here or there, and lack the confidence to actually try it in the first place.
Oh wait, isn’t this an analogy for life too.
…. definitely feels like one to me.
I vividly remember my first few encounters with this pose, flashback to living in Italy where we frequented a local yoga studio and attempted to work off the many pizza, pasta and wine moments. While I’m not sure we worked any of it off, because I returned a few sizes larger, I am certain that we learned a lot from the teachers.
The teachers taught an intense mix of Ashtanga and the rocket series, it was fun, challenging, and usually involved learning a new advanced pose or two.
And this pose, eight angle pose, was one one of them.
So today, we will venture into this posture together, move through an invigorating, strong practice and then attempt to do eight angle pose. If you’re new or unsure of how this pose works, below is a brief breakdown to familiarize yourself with the steps.
One pro tip, two blocks are super helpful here, so grab those babies and let’s get started.
Eight Angle Pose How-To:
This is where we start, both legs extended long, feet flexed towards the face, heels possibly hovering, spine erect, and palms pushing down into the blocks or floor.
Hold, breathe, hold and breathe.
2. Rock the Baby
From dandasana, slide your right heel into the groin, bring the leg across the body, and towards the chest. Ideally, we want the right knee in the crux of the right elbow, the right foot in the crux of the left elbow, and hands clasped at center.
Then rock your baby out.
*This shape does require a great deal of mobility, so be gentle, no pulling or yanking here. If the bind is too much, bring the arms underneath the right lower leg and hold it here like so.
3. Elephant Trunk
Once your baby is warm and ready, begin to bring your leg over the right shoulder or as high up on the arm as you can manage. Say whatttt, you want me to put my leg over my shoulder. Yes, that’s exactly correct friend. Get your leg up there as best you can.
Once you find a leg to arm connection, squeeze the leg in place here, like really squeeze, don’t hold back.
4. Ankles Cross + Lift Off
From your elephant trunk shape, bring your hands to rest atop the blocks and prepare for lift off, here’s where it gets interesting.
Bring your left leg into the body and over top the right foot, creating a crossing of the ankles action, acting as a locking mechanism. And on your next inhale, push your hands into the blocks and lift your entire self up.
Yes you, pick yourself up, you got this!
5. Extend the Feet
And you’re officially up, butt off the ground, ankles crossed, and in an entirely weird and foreign shape. Don’t worry, we’re almost at the final destination – eight angle pose – a few more key steps.
With your body lifted and arms straight, begin to straighten your legs on a diagonal up towards the sky. As you do this, squeeze the shit out of your arm, like I said above, don’t hold back, just keep squeezing.
6. Drop it Low Girl
Lastly, we transition into the final shape or the “full variation” of eight angle pose. This is where it gets tricky or where most people get tripped up because it’s a quick transition, things can get hairy.
The transition goes like this:
- You’re in the above posture with straight arms
- Elbows bend and the chest drops, think chaturanga in the upper body
- The legs go from lifted to parallel with the ground
What trips me up the most is the straight arms to bent elbows moment, it’s easy to lose steam here and just say screw it, collapsing into a pile of body parts on the ground. Trust me, I’ve done it too many times and as will you. But, this is what we’ve worked so hard for, all the steps prior to this…. so let’s muster up our last bit of strength + confidence and make it happen, yeah.
What helps me in that moment of transition is to mimic a chaturanga shape in the upper body – elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, chest broad and lifting, and a badass, I can do it attitude. I recommend you mimic all of this too.
Now with all of that said, let’s unroll our yoga mats and start this journey towards eight angle pose!