Challenge your strength, flexibility, and balance with Bird of Paradise Pose…
Bird of Paradise Pose (Svarga Dvijasana), is a very challenging advanced yoga pose that involves a balancing bind. Those new to yoga should not do this pose, and even if you are intermediate or advanced, be sure you are thoroughly warmed up before attempting the pose. Go slowly, and listen to your body, and if something hurts or feels wrong, stop and try again next time. However, if you are ready for it, this standing yoga pose can have many wonderful benefits!
Bird of Paradise Pose (which is named not for a bird, but for the tropical Bird of Paradise flower which it resembles) is a great pose for those who spend a lot of time sitting, as it provides a deep stretch for the hips, groin, and hamstring muscles. It also improves balance and stability, increases focus and concentration, strengthens the legs and core, stretches the arms and shoulders, and provides a gentle massage for the internal organs due to the slight twist involved.
If you have a shoulder or hip injury, you should avoid this pose. To modify the pose, you can practice in a seated position by lifting and binding the extended leg while seated. If you simply have trouble with the bind, you can also hold onto a strap with both hands for a less intense version. You can also keep your knee bent in the standing pose, or skip the bind altogether and hold onto the shin of the raised leg.
How to Do Bird of Paradise Pose:
- Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) with the right leg in front is a great starting point!
- Begin your half bind by reaching the left arm behind your back. If you can keep your left shoulder open without collapsing it toward the floor, proceed with the full bind by reaching your right arm underneath your right leg and connecting your hands near the outermost part of the right thigh.
- Turn your gaze down toward the right toes and bring your left foot to the top of your mat, placing your feet at a hip-width distance.
- Shift your weight onto the left leg and slowly make your way up to standing.
- Adjust your gaze straight ahead to steady yourself, and gradually straighten your right leg, bringing it into full extension.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before descending your right foot back down to the floor. Carefully release the bind into a loose Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) before repeating on the second side.
Read more at DoYouYoga.com, or watch this quick video for a demonstration: