6 Yoga Poses to Build Strength for Eight Angle Pose
Astavakrasana, eight angle pose is one of those yoga poses that looks fun and complicated all at the same time. Although it may look difficult taking some time to work on some key elements: building strength, confidence and focus.
Eight angle pose holds holistic benefits as well. The process of building up to this pose involves activating and strengthening the solar plexus chakra. Chakra’s are energy points that help to increase balance in the body, mind and spirit. The solar plexus chakra (manicure) is located at the abdomen and is responsible for self worth and common sense.
A note about strength.
As with most challenging things, if the proper steps are not followed prior to attempting, it might not go so well. Holding your body weight takes a lot of strength and core engagement. Building core strength is one of the first ways to prepare the eight angle pose.
Not only is core strength important but mental strength plays a big part in any arm balance. When things are difficult human nature defaults into thinking we aren’t good enough or aren’t strong enough. It takes strength in the mind to help overcome the ego telling us we aren’t strong or good enough. Igniting the strength and fire within will help build the inner strength, physically and mentally.
Confidence is important.
Think about it from a different perspective. Let’s say you have a big presentation at work. You know your stuff but if you don’t show some confidence while presenting it might seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Here’s another example, you see two people walking on the street one is a little hunched and looking down. The other is standing tall and looking up. The person holding him/her-self more confidently is usually the person other people want to talk to.
Confidence in yoga can sometime be confused with the Ego. Oh that evil Ego always trying to creep it’s self into yoga when the practice of yoga is to get over the Ego. However, having confidence in your abilities and in your self is different. Approaching a difficult pose (or life situation) with the belief that you can at least attempt it even if it ends up totally different from what it’s “supported” to look like, is the first step in overcoming obstacles.
Because there are a lot of things happening in this pose, focusing on grounding down through the hands is vital. The hands provide the base and foundation for this pose. Concentrating on the breath and present moment will allow the pose to express itself in the best way possible. Being present and recognizing where your body is in space.
Once you have strength, confidence and focus the pose should come easier and easier the more you practice. Try the following lead up poses in order to gain a better understanding of where you are in the process. Remembering that everyday is different, so what you could do yesterday might be different than today.
6 Yoga poses to build strength for eight angle pose
Navasana (boat pose): Before going into boat pose, try to root down through the sitting bones and gently extend out through the crown of the head. Gently lean back to find that spot where you can balance. Stay there or add the arms reaching out in front and maybe lift the legs. Make sure to breathe! Hold for a few breaths before releasing. If this becomes easier, start to extend the legs and lower to low boat, with torso and heels hovering a few inches from the ground, then exhale and lift back up to high boat (the starting position).
Plank pose: Make sure to press the earth away with the hands and feet, engage the shoulder blades onto the back and scope the hips up. Watch the hips though so they don’t lift too high. Engage the abs and hug everything in toward the midline. Bring the knees to the earth if you feel like the hips a dipping too much or there’s a lot of strain. To make the plank more challenging try lifting a foot up off the earth.
Locust pose (salabhasana): Laying on your belly with arms by your sides and the forehead resting on the earth. Press the tops of the toes into the earth, lengthen the tailbone toward the heels. On an exhale lift the head, shoulders and chest up while reaching the hands back toward the feet. If that feels alright, lift the feet and lower legs up. Hold a few breaths before releasing and resting the whole body on the earth. This helps strengthen the back body which will help build strength for the goal pose.
Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose): This pose is great for working on opening the inner thighs, hamstrings and glutes. It’s also a great strengthener when you press the palms (or forearms) into the earth so shoulder blades work onto the back. From downward facing dog, step the right foot forward to the outside of the right hand. Gently hug the right knee in toward the right shoulder. Bring the back knee down or press the back foot into the earth while the knee is lifted. Feel the points that make contact with the earth and feel the energy pulsing through the body. Make sure to switch sides.
Matsyendrasana (Lord of the fishes pose): This pose is great for activating the solar plexus (navel center) to invite energy and connection. Although this is more of a stretch, it can help to strengthen the spinal muscles. From seated with legs extended, bend the right knee and walk the foot to the outside of the left leg. Stay here or bend the left knee bringing the heel toward the outer right hip. Place the right hand behind the right hip while extending the left arm up. Exhale and twist to the right, hooking the left elbow to the outside of the right knee or hug the knee with the elbow crease. Make sure to switch sides after a few breaths.
Dandasana variation (staff pose variation): Start seated with legs extended out in front. Place hands on the earth next to the hips and press the hands into the earth while keeping the sitting bones grounded. Stay here for a breath or two. Two to keep the hands grounded as you press into the earth lifting the sitting bones up. Stay here or try to lift one heel off the mat, keeping a slight bend in the knee if needed. Switch sides after a couple breaths. To keep building try lifting both feet so you’re in an “L” sit.
Try these poses and variations often to help build the strength needed for making your way all the way into eight angle pose (Astavakrasana).
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