I’m back at it with another pose tutorial, and once again it is a beginner arm balance that will prepare you for something more advanced. This time I am walking you step by step through Elephant Trunk Pose (or Eka Hasta Bhujasana in sanskrit).
It’s not a complicated pose but it does require (and help you develop) lower core strength and hip flexibility. If you don’t have enough of one or the other of those at this point don’t leave me yet, as I will guide you through points where you can work on both of these first before reaching for the full pose.
At the end of the instructions I will also provide you with a prop option, to make the pose more accessible at first. If you want to follow this option, you will want to have two blocks handy.
If you would prefer me to talk you through it, instead of reading, head on over to my 10-minute tutorial video.
Once you have this pose down you will be ready to take on Eight Angle Pose, which I will be giving a tutorial on shortly. So get yourself ready!
1. Seated Pigeon Pose – First things first, as you can see in the image above you need to be able to lift your leg pretty high for this pose. This does require a great deal of hip and hamstring flexibility. On top of doing a yoga class or some stretches first, this step will help you prepare and check your flexibility in this area. Sit on your mat with the legs extended in front of you. Bend the right knee, bringing the right foot in close to your sit bones. Lifting the right foot from the mat, grab hold of it with your left hand, pulling the foot towards your chest on the left side, and opening the knee to the right. Hug the outside of your shin with both arms, interlacing the fingers around the shin. Lift the chest and sink the shoulders. Rock side to side here, and then play with straightening the leg while elevated. If this feels alright in your hips and hamstrings you are ready to continue. If there is some discomfort here, work at this step first.
2. Lifting the leg – While hugging the leg in, thread the right arm underneath the right leg. Bring the hand close to the hip, spread the fingertips wide, and ensure weight is throughout the fingertips and knuckles and not just in the wrists. Lift the right leg as high up the arm as you possibly can – aiming to get the leg onto the shoulder. It is possible to do the pose with the leg lower on the arm, but the higher the leg, the easier it will be to lift yourself off the ground.
3. Letting go – Right now you have hold of the right foot with the left hand, but you will need that on the ground to lift you. Engage and contract your right hamstring to keep it lifted in place as you let go and bring your left hand down to the mat by your left hip. Make sure your hands on both sides, are tight into the body for easier lifting.
4. Practice lifting – Bend your left knee, bringing the foot in close to the groin. Like with everything in this pose, the farther out the limbs are from the center, the harder it is to lift your hips. Pressing into the palms, play with lifting just your hips off the mat first. If you find this difficult, stay at this step and practice it for a while until it becomes more doable. If it feels good, try to add lifting the left foot up for a second or two.
5. Here goes – Now straighten out the left leg. Make sure the palms are firmly planted close to the hips, right leg is lifted and hamstrings are engaged. Engage the left leg as you press through the palms and lift the hips. Keep engaging throughout the body as you find liftoff.
Prop option – I hear a lot of students saying their arms are too short, which anatomically is impossible. However, thanks to props you can extend your arms a bit until you get the hang of this pose. You do need to build up strength in the core, front abdominals, and hip flexors in order to find enough lift, and a set of blocks will help you get there. Set up for the pose the same way, but place a set of blocks on their lowest level underneath where the hands are (close to the hips on either side).
Wrist discomfort – If you find you are experiencing pain in the wrist in this pose, take tabletop pose and practice shifting the weight away from the wrist, into the fingertips and knuckles instead. You will also want to do regular wrist stretches to prepare.
If you are a little bit confused, and think visuals might help, click through to the video below.
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