Bhujapidasana- Arm pressure pose

Bhujapidasana is a balancing pose in the Ashtanga primary series. Every time I practice the full ashtanga primary series whether at home or in class, I feel like I’m caught in an endless trap of tumbling over, slipping off my hands and bruises.  However, in order to understand why I am unable to conquer this pose, it is important to break down the various actions in the pose.
The movements in bhujapidasana:
Protraction of the shoulders occurs when the serratus anterior is contracted. This muscle is strengthened in chataranga. The brachioradialis is also strengthened in chataranga, a muscle that dorsiflexes the wrists. There is a slight flexion at the elbows, which comes from the strength of the biceps brachii. The biceps brachii is strengthened when sarvangasana and stretched in purvottanasana. Dorsiflexion also occurs at the wrists, assisted by the brachioradialis
Compression of the abdomen occurs due to the flexion of the trunk. This occurs with the contraction of the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis. The contraction of these abdominal muscle also lifts the pelvis and creates the mula bandha, making it essential lifting the body up and getting height in the pose. The abdominal muscles are strengthened and awakened in navasana.
The muscles of the posterior cervical and upper thoracic spine cause extension of the cervical spine. Certain back bending excursuses such as setu bandha sarvangasana can help strengthen these muscles.
The hip flexes which comes from the strength of the illiopsoas and adducts due to the constant pressing of the adductor muscles into the arms. The illiopsoas can be strengthened in utthita hasta padangusthasana D and stretched in a deep lunge. The adductor magnus, the largest and most posterior of the adductor muscles is stretched in upasitha konasana and can be strengthened by squeezing a block in between the thighs. The hip also externally rotates, an action occurring with the contraction of the piriformis and quadratus femoris. These muscles can be stretched in marichyasana C and strengthened in utthita hasta padangusthasana B.
The hamstrings work to flex the knee in bhujapidasana. The hamstrings are strengthened in the illiopsoas lunge and stretched in paschimottanasana. Lastly, the ankles dorsiflex and interlock each other forming a bandha. This action occurs due to the contraction of the tibialis anterior.
Even though these are all the physical attributes needed to perform in bhujapidasana, going up into an arm balance requires a lot of mental strength and technique as well. Constant practice and perfecting of the right technique will help one to master this pose.
Aditi Timbadia

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