Astavakrasana: Pose Breakdown and Why It's Important Not To Obsess Over How Your Body Can Contort

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Astavakrasana (8 angle pose) is an arm balance in the physical (asana) practice of yoga. It's a very challenging pose, and it's fun to work towards, master, fall out of, re-master, etc. It's a pose that I used to do often but it has faded from my practice as I have become less obsessed with "nailing" certain "challenging" poses. None-the-less it's fun, and it's a good lesson in patience.


You may be sitting here looking at this photo wondering why in the world this is called 8 angle pose. Well that's because it's named after a person, named Asta Vakra (Asta meaning 8, Vakra meaning bends in Sanskrit, and as we know, Asana meaning pose). As the story goes, while in the womb, baby Astavakra heard his father reciting the Vedas and from his mother's belly corrected the father as he recited them incorrectly. The dather got so mad he cursed his unborn son to be bent in 8 places when born.

Astavakra went on to become a cripled but wise sage who, as it resonates with me, teaches the lesson that a book should not be judged by it's cover. That even though our body is our temple and should be treated well, as the carrier of our soul, it's important not to obsess too much over how it looks. *my interpretation*

This reminds me of something my mom used to say when I was younger and would complain of a blemish or my eczama. She would say "you know what honey, your skin is just there to hold everything together."

Sure mastering poses is part of the process, part of learning to breathe and grow and advance physically. But when that is the only focus, or when you become so obsessed with what other people can or can't do, you lose sight of what's important. So keep that in mind when working towards this pose!

Prepping For the Pose:

  • Chaturanga
  • Crow Pose
  • Shoulder Openers
  • Core Work
  • Hip Openers

How To Get Into The Pose:

  1. From a seated position craddle your leg like its a baby - left foot in the crook of your right arm, while you hold your left knee with the left hand.
  2. From there, place your left leg as high up on your left arm as possible (like a backpack strap.
  3. Place your hands in chatturunga position on either side of your right leg still resting on the ground, palms under your shoulders.
  4. Use your core and your upper body strength to lean forward into an arm balance, floating your right foot up to catch onto the left. 
  5. Gaze forward and continue to lean forward as you straighten out your legs.
  6. DO NOT get frustrated or upset if you cant get your hips lifted (they're heavy) or if you fall on your face (we all do that too).

See step by step photos below!


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