Astavakrasana(Eight-limbed Pose)

The story of Astavakrasana: The pose is dedicated to the sage Astavakra, the spiritual guru of King Janaka. It is told that when the sage was in his mother’s womb, his father Kagola made several mistakes while reciting the Vedas. Hearing these, the unborn sage laughed. The father became enraged and cursed his son to be born as Astavakra. So it came to pass that he was born crooked in eight places. These crooks earned him the name Ashtavakra or Eight Crooks. Yet Kagola was later defeated in a philosophical debate with Vandin, the court scholar. While still a boy the sage, a natural scholar of great ability went to court and avenged his father’s defeat by beating Vandin in argument and becoming the guru of Janaka. Accordingly his father blessed him and his deformity vanished

Steps: 1. Sit on the floor with the legs straight. Raise the right leg and take hold of the foot with the left hand. Lift the right knee back and bring the leg onto the back of the right arm. 2. Place the hands on the floor. Press the knee against the shoulder and cross the left ankle over the right. Press the hands into the floor and contract the anus slightly. Exhale and lift the bottom off the floor. 3. With the right leg supported on the shoulder, exhale and bend the elbows. Lean the torso forward; at the same time, straighten the knees and extend the legs out to the right, parallel to the floor. Look at the floor or look ahead. Hold for 30—60 seconds. Then straighten the arms slowly, lower the seat to the floor and uncross the ankles. Repeat the pose for the same length of time to the left.
Anatomical Function
Upper body: 1.Extension of the cervical spine and rotation, due to internal oblique and erector spine muscles. 2. Shoulder flexion and adduction; the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles protect the shoulder. 3. Elbow flexion due to the action of the biceps.
Lower body: 1. Hip flexion and adduction due to the action of the psoas major iliacus, pectineus, adductor longus and brevis. 2. Knee extension due to the quadriceps. 3. Ankle dorsiflexion due to the tibialis anterior.

Benefits: Strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders
Tones the abdominals
Tones the inner thighs
Improves sense of balance

Cautions: 1. Avoid this posture if you suffer from shoulder, elbow, or wrist injuries.
2. If you have difficulty in lifting up your right leg so that it comes up on your arm, you should work on the flexibility for your leg movement.
3. Avoid straining yourself to come into the pose, and instead, you should practice forward bending and standing poses like the Marichyasana I to prepare your body and strengthen it for the Eight-Angle Pose.

Rao Xinyi(200hr YTT weekend class)