Bird of Paradise is a fun advanced yoga pose to try a combination of strength and flexibility. This pose is a great challenge if you are struggling with your alignment in some basic balancing postures.
Bird of Paradise Pose is also a great flexibility test to make sure that the hamstrings and the inner thighs really coordinate. To modify, you can use a yoga strap instead of clasping the hands directly.
To use a strap, hold onto the strap as you wrap the arms around the extended leg.
Try this warm-up posture first to make sure you have the necessary flexibility needed for this pose and to warm-up the hip area:
- Standing straight on your yoga mat, keep your belly sucked into the spine.
- Inhale, bend your knee and hold onto your right toes, stretch it out and bring your right leg out to the side.
- Then to prepare, let go of the clasp of the foot, but keep the leg up.
- Exhale place your leg back down.
Now that you have warmed up your hip, here are two ways to try this pose:
Method 1: Staying Upright
If you feel comfortable in this hand-to-extended-toe pose then you are ready to try Bird of Paradise on the right side:
- Bend your right knee into your body. Keep bent knee in and your gaze down two feet in front of you.
- Then, externally rotate the right hip joint. Pull your knee as close into your shoulder as you can.
- Hold onto your knee and hook it over your shoulder. Wrap your arm and shoulder, same side as leg, forward and down. Put your arm behind you, as you put your hands behind your back.
- If you are comfortable here you can extend your leg slowly. Point the right toes, keep the belly in,
- To get out of the pose. Slowly bend your knee.
- Release the hand and exhale the breath, place your leg back down.
- Repeat the Bird of Paradise pose on the other side as you did the first side. Remember to warm-up the hip area first with hand-to-extended big toe stretch on the new side.
Method 2: Starting From a Forward Bend
- Start out on your yoga mat, with the feet little bit wider than your regular mountain pose position, which is usually feet hip width apart.
- Inhale, reach your arms up, palms facing parallel to each other.
- As you exhale, come all the way forward into forward fold pose.
- Take your right arm over to the side of the left.
- Take your right arm up the inside of your right leg. Inhale and extend your left arm up and around, coming into that bound twist. Clasp the hands together.
- Walk your right toe, over towards your left foot. Come up to the ball of the foot.
- Focus on one spot as you lift all the way up to standing.
- Keep straightening the torso keep the knee bent.
- Look up while holding hands or strap behind you.
- Begin straightening the leg.
- Keep your hip bones down, and externally rotate the extended leg in the hip socket. Feel the reach from the toes to the floor!
- Release by bending the knee. Keep the hands clasped and bend at the hips back down into the forward fold.
- Unclasp the hands.
- Rest in this standing forward bend pose.
Whether you try the upright method, the forward fold methods, or both, Bird of Paradise is sure to increase your core strength and flexibility in the legs and shoulders!