Set your abs on fire in this challenging asymmetrical arm balance, the Eight-Angle Pose also known as Ashtavakarasana.
(Pronounced as "ahsh-TAH-vak-ah-RAHS-anna")
The Sanskrit phrase Ashtavakara means "eight bends." This pose takes its name from the Sage Ashtavakara, who fearlessly avenged his father by defeating the great Vedic scholar Vandi in a philosophical debate while he was a young boy. The legend says that after his triumph, he earned a blessing that straightened out all the deformities in his eight crooked limbs.
Stand on your yoga mat with your toes facing forward and your feet almost 2 feet apart. Bend your knees as you bend forward to press your right palm on the mat in between your feet. Press your left palm into the floor next to the outside edge of your left foot.
Lift your right leg up over your right arm, resting the back of your right thigh on top of the back of your right upper arm. Bring your left bent leg forward between your arms, and then place your left foot right next to your right foot with both of the soles of your feet pressing into the floor.
Now take a breath and straighten your arms. As you exhale, lift both your feet off of the floor. Then cross your ankles in the air so that your left ankle rests on top of your right ankle. Your left knee bends down and points out to the side while your right knee stays up firmly on your right shoulder. Extend your heels and do not point your toes. Now your feet are dangling in the air above your right hand.
Squeeze your right arm tightly between your thighs and shift your weight slightly to the left hand while extending your interlocked legs out straight to the right side. Keep your left arm straight.
Take another breath and exhale as you now bend your elbows to lower your head and torso so that they become parallel with the floor.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds -- or as long as you can -- for up to one minute. To come out, inhale as you straighten your arms, lift up, pull your legs back in, release them and stand once again. Then repeat all these steps for the same amount of time on the other side.
Do not practice this posture if you have recently injured your wrists, elbows, shoulders or abdominal muscles.
Eight-Angle Pose builds strength in the wrists, arms, abdominal muscles and lower back.
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