Yoga has long been regarded as a shamanistic practice meaning we gather knowledge directly from our connection to the natural world. Many of the yoga asanas (postures) are inspired from plants, animals and forces in nature. I believe the ancient yogis created these postures as a profound way to remind us that we are in an intimately connected relationship to each other and every living thing. Nature inspires us but it also sustains us.
I am blessed to be in one of the most amazing places on the planet at this moment – Costa Rica at the edge of the virgin rain-forest. The power, radiance and magnitude of life force energy here is awe inspiring and a reminder of our need to act as stewards to our amazing planet. I was inspired this morning by all the Bird of Paradise flowers growing wild in the jungle and offer this brief instructional overview on how to practice Bird of Paradise asana so that you may remember the great beauty within you and without whether you are in the rainforest or the snows of Canada. We really are all one.
Bird of Paradise Pose
Bird of paradise pose (Svarga dvijasana in Sanskrit) is an advanced standing balance pose. This isn’t for beginners and is usually taught in more advanced classes. There is a reason. This is a fairly complicated pose that does require balance and flexibility that naturally comes with advanced practice.
This pose is great for improving your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening the legs and abdominal muscles. In addition, bird of paradise opens the hips and stretches the groin muscles, hamstrings and increases flexibility.
Stage One – Open Those Hips
Standing Half Box is a great way to safely open your hips and stretch the hamstrings as you fold forward. Try holding for ten breaths on each side. Remember your knee should be totally happy here.
Stage Two – Open Your Shoulders
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and fold from the hips.
Lift up your left heel and try rolling your left arm and shoulder inward as you bring your arm behind your left leg. This is a deep rotation of the arm and shoulder so be patient as it takes times to open up here.
Once your arm comes behind the leg, the next stage is binding the hands. This bind will be required to move into Bird of Paradise posture so if it is not happening then just practice the posture in the photo here.
Stage 3 – Focus, Engage, Lift
Once you have the bind, the next stage is actually a contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (mula bandha) and the core muscles (uddiyana bandha). This is what will help you lift up without falling over. The other key piece is to focus the eyes in front of you and lift slowly. Many students try to whip themselves up into this posture and they end up falling over. Think of the grace and power of a brilliant jungle flower – rooted down and gently opening up.
Keep focusing and engaging and before you know it your leg gets light and lifts almost on its own.
Stage 4 – Root and Lengthen
Coming out of it…bend your extended leg and slowly lower back to the mat. Repeat on the other side.
Remember to breath.
A celebrated transformational leader and a leading pioneer in embodied spirituality and Yoga, Shasta has inspired hundreds of people through her breakthrough methods for awakening and empowering your inner voice and divine power. Director, founder and senior teacher with Balanced Life Yoga, she delivers public talks, seminars and trainings on evolution and empowerment. She draws on a wide variety of techniques including Yoga, Shamanis, meditation, energy healing, coaching and the Law of Attraction. She is especially appreciated for her passionate way of allowing individuals to make sense of their world and embodied, holistic means to become the change they wish to see.
As early as in her teenage years, Shasta embarked on her journey as a spiritual explorer which led her to India, where she studied yoga, meditation and energy healing. She has studied with many remarkable mentors and she has undergone thousands of hour’s intense practice of meditation and spiritual studies. Shasta has taken every opportunity to become adept in her field through her own practice as well as through extensive training in yoga, group dynamics, meditation and spiritual counselling.