Practice: Svarga Dvidasana (Bird Of Paradise Pose)

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Svarga Dvidasana requires a combination of steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha); the steadiness to maintain a lengthened spine and strong balance, and the ease to open the hips and extend the top leg to it’s full potential. No matter how ‘difficult’ a pose seems, there is always a level we can take it to that suits us. Remember that the poses are there to practice in order to help us learn about ourselves. Are you the kind of person who pushes yourself in to situations? Or do you go with the flow and happily accept things as they are? Asanas like Bird of Paradise can reveal a lot about us.

It’s a good idea to open the hips and lengthen the hamstrings before practicing this pose, so perhaps warm up with a couple of sun salutations, warrior poses, and standing splits to really get yourself ready!

An interesting way to enter this pose is from Baddha Parsva Konasana or ‘Bound Side angle pose’. So get yourself comfortable and begin from there….

How To:

  • With the hands clasped in a bind around the [right] leg, begin to heel-toe the feet in towards each other. *If the hands don’t clasp together then just reach them towards each other, the bind will be easier for those with longer arms and more difficult for others.
  • When your feet are about hip width apart, bring the weight in to the [left] leg
  • With the hands still bound around the [right] leg, begin to lift that [right] leg up so you come to balance on one foot.
  • Extend upwards so you have a long spine – making sure your back is straight before you move any further.
  • If you’re happy to move on from there, maintaining the length through the spine, extend the top leg and reach through the foot. *This part is all about the length of the hamstrings; if yours are tight, be mindful not to push too hard. Your body will naturally open up to the poses when it’s ready.
  • Stay here for 5 – 10 breaths, taking a point in front of you to look at and keep balance.
  • REMEMBER TO BREATHE! (Surprisingly, we really do need to remember to keep breathing, as we often subconsciously hold our breath in challenging situations on and off the mat)
  • On an exhale, gently drop the [right] foot back down to the floor, and heel-toe your way back to your bound side angle.
  • Step back to downward facing dog, and then see how the pose feels on the other side, noticing any differences between each side of the body.

This pose is a good chance to practice binding, hip flexibility, balance and most importantly, self –acceptance.

 

Have fun!

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