Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise is a tricky pose as it requires a combination of flexibility, core and ample of balance to get into the pose comfortably.

Some asanas that you can perform to get into this pose include:

1) Vrikshasana

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This pose mainly focuses on lengthening of the spine and keeping the balance on a single foot. To add difficulty to the pose, stare at your thumbs once you have found your balance.
Hold for 5 breathes, come out of pose and change sides.

2) Baddha Trikonasana

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This pose opens up your chest. You will feel the stretch mainly in your obliques and hamstrings.
Hold for 5 breathes, come out of pose and change sides.

3) Hanumanasana

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This pose stretches your hamstrings and opens up your hip flexors. To go deeper into the pose, raide hands over the head, straighten them and look at the thumbs for drishti.
Hold for 5 breathes, come out of pose and change sides.

4) Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B

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This pose is gives you the feel of how bird of paradise feels like. Standing strong on the grounded foot, lengthening the spine into the sky, feel the stretch in the hamstrings as you pull the leg closer to the body.

Now that your chest, hips and hamstrings are warmed up, let’s go into the bird of paradise pose.

Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana.
1. Start in Warrior 1 (with the left leg bent), Inhale, lower your arms to shoulder height. Exhale, take your left arm under the left thigh, and extending your right arm up before taking a bind behind your back. Hold the left wrist with the right hand. Keeping the left leg bent, twist and open up the torso outwards to the sky as you gently tuck your tailbone in, keeping the plane as straight as possible. Lengthen your spine to the crown of your head. Drishti should be over your right shoulder.

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Baddha Uttanasana
2. Inhale, square your hips and point both feet to the front of your mat. Exhale, carefully take a big step forward with your right leg to the right of your left leg, with legs hip distant apart. Now, straighten them both and twist your torso to the right, keeping the bind. Drishti should be on your nose.

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3. Now, slowly take the weight off the left foot, Inhale, shift all of your weight onto your right foot and start to lift your torso, lifting the left foot off the floor once you have gained balance on the right foot. Keep weight evenly spread out on the supporting foot. These 4 points are big toe, little toe, ball of your feet and heel. Lengthen your spine to the sky, enagaging the muscles around your spine, open up your chest, with your left leg still bent. Once you find stability and balance, exhale and extend the left leg out slowly while keeping your gaze straight ahead. Hold this pose for 5 breathes and change sides.

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I am pretty flexible so this pose was not too hard to get into. But I try to straighten and raise my leg higher every time I get into this pose. I particularly like the pose as it is an opener. It opens up the hips, the chest and the back and you feel graceful like a crane when that leg is extended out nice and straight.

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– Yee Siying (200hr Weekend YTT Jul 2015)