Asana of the month June: Eka Pada Kurma Dandhasana (Bird of Paradise)

Each month we choose a pose to focus on in each class through strong attention to alignment, variations, and/or modifications as a way to grow and expand our yogic horizons.
Whether you live in a stately Georgetown mansion, a trendy NoMa loft, or couch surf between group houses, June in D.C. can have you jonzing for a tropical island getaway. Not to worry—even if you’re stuck in the city this month, you can still channel the islands with our asana of the month for June—the beautiful and exotic Bird of Paradise pose.
Different traditions have different Sanskrit names for June’s asana of the month. Jivamukti-influenced yogis may call it Eka Pada Kurma Dandhasana (One-Legged Tortoise Staff Pose), while others may refer to the pose as Svarga Dvijasana (according to one source, “Twice-Born Pose”). But whether you slowly and patiently make your way toward balance in the posture, like the one-legged tortoise, or unfurl into the pose in stages, like the twice-born bloom of some exotic, tropical flower, you’ll need to cultivate stamina and steadiness in your base to support the glorious, celebratory unfolding of beauty that is Bird of Paradise Pose.
As one commentator so aptly wrote, “It’s tempting to want to push up [into the pose] too fast, but remember to let Nature lead the way. That’s what’s going to make a second blooming possible.”

Bird of Paradise Pose
Benefits:
· Strengthens the standing leg, ankle, knee, and thigh
· Opens inner thigh, hip, groins, shoulders, and chest
· Lengthens spine
· Improves balance
· Helps focus the mind
Cautions/Contraindications:
· Groin injury
· Hamstring/Hamstring attachment injury
· Shoulder injury
Preparatory Poses:
· Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
· Malasana (Garland Pose, aka yogic squat)
· Hamstring openers such as: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose), and Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
· Prasarita Padattonasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
· Shoulder and chest openers (i.e., Gomukhasana/Cow-Face Pose arms)
Song that Most Comes to Mind While Moving Toward the Posture:
Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 classic: “If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)”

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