About the pose

In Sanskrit, ‘Svarga’ = ‘Heavenly world’ or ‘Paradise’, and ‘Dvija’ = ‘twice born’. This pose gets its name as it is compared to the flower ‘Bird of Paradise’ where this flower grows horizontal and has a long stalk. Here our body resembles this flower while in the pose, with the petals replicated with the outstretched leg and the stalk replicated with the balancing leg. Once in this pose the body is compared to the beauty of this flower. Bird of Paradise Pose or Svarga Dvijasana, also is compared to the real living soul where one needs to work hard on the spiritual front to attain the Heavenly world and hence this pose is considered as an advance level pose and requires one to have immense sense of control and balance not only on the body but from within to remain calm while in the posture.

Bird Of Paradise Pose helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.

Anatomy

Bird Of Paradise Pose benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:

  • Biceps and Triceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Quadriceps

bird of paradise pose - lydie

How to do the pose

  • Come to stand in the centre of the mat, in Tadasana with hands joined at the palms in Namaste and take a few breaths here to connect the body with the breath.
  • Keeping the feet a few feet apart stand with extending the spine upwards and raise your hand up above your head as you inhale and go forward as you exhale to go into Uttanasana, and place the palms on the floor besides your feet.
  • Remain in Uttanasana for about 6 breaths, and as you exhale take the torso deeper down and neck and face deeper inside towards your thighs.
  • Bring the right hand from the front and take it inside out through the right leg and from behind interlock the left hand bringing it from around the waist while bending the knees a bit.
  • With the hands interlocked around the right leg, raise the right leg slowly with inhalation from the floor and bring the torso upright taking the weight of the lifted leg into your interlocked hands and exhale standing upright.
  • Make sure the hip is square, while doing this and with another inhalation, lift the right leg completely taking it towards your right side extending it out while flexing the hips.
  • Take a deep breath and work on the interlocked hands to get a better balance and grip and slowly throw the chest out while taking the shoulder behind. Gaze ahead pulling in your tummy and using the core muscles maintain the balance.
  • Make sure the leg that is stretched is fairly straight and not bent too much at the knee, as this will not help you balance well. Slowly gaining confidence stretch the leg out completely, pointing all the right foot toes upwards for a better stretch at the hamstrings, calves and quadriceps of the extended leg.
  • Remain in Bird Of Paradise with right leg up for about 4 breath or more, and slowly work on deeper extension with every exhalation. If one needs support to start with, using the wall to keep the raised leg can be useful or placing one hand on the wall to help raise the leg is also another alternative.
  • Release from the pose slowly inhaling and bending the right knee and placing the foot on the floor down and go back into Uttanasana with feet a few inches apart.
  • Remain here for few breaths and relax the hips and the leg completely.
  • Now bring the left hand from front and take it through the left leg and with the right arm from around the waist interlock them behind the left thigh.
  • Inhale and raise the left leg up slowly and taking the weight of the left leg into the arms, bring the torso up and upright squaring the hips.
  • Inhale again and slowly extend the left leg out completely throwing the chest out while taking the shoulders behind you. Remain in Bird Of Paradise pose with the left leg out for about 4 breaths or more depending on the body comfort.
  • With every exhalation try and go deeper with the stretch at the legs and the arms along with the chest while the tummy is pulled in using the core strength.
  • Release from the pose, bending the leg as you inhale and relax back in Uttanasana.
  • One could repeat this again to get a better understanding of the posture along with the body and breath.
  • While in this pose, watch for the breath, using both the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles to get better balance.

Benefits

  • Extension of the spine for better flow of prana: In Bird of Paradise Pose, the extended leg forces the torso to remain fairly straight, and this comes with practice. Here with the torso being straight, the hips too are forced to be square, which helps the easy flow of prana from the base of the spine to the entire body through the well connected nerves. This keeps the spine fit and active reducing the blockages around the spine for easy flow.
  • Stretches all the muscles in the human body: The deep stretch of the leg which is being raised, opens the hip adductors and the gluteus maximus. The leg that is balancing the body the lower leg muscles like the calves, the arms holding the legs in interlock, where the biceps and the triceps are. The core strength muscles and the abdominal muscles to get the body in balance. Hence in this pose the entire body muscles are contracted to gain energy to hold the body in the pose.
  • Opens the hips and the lower back improving flexibility: With the deep extension of the legs flexing the body at the hips and keeping the lower back muscles contracted, it opens and clears any kind of stiffness while in the pose and with practice this improves the flexibility of the hips. No doubt one needs to have flexibility of the hips to master this pose, but repeated practice of this pose keeping the body awareness, helps to opens the hips deeper for more advance level poses.
  • Improves the balance of the body with awareness: No yoga pose can be mastered without awareness. And once the awareness is mastered the body feels light while in any posture, and this same rule applies to Bird Of Paradise Pose. The awareness of the movement of the body becomes essential to gain better balance with the connection of the breath and hence this pose gives room for the same.
  • Improved balance calms the mind and reduces anxiety: This pose being an Advance Level balancing pose is standing position, works wonders for those who have a flexible body but needs to work on the awareness to calm the mind. A generally fit body can master this pose, keeping the focus and stability in mind.
  • Improves the posture of the body with the deep stretch of the muscles: Svarga Dvijasana, requires focus, and this helps one to remain in balance for sometime in this pose. Keeping the back and the hip straight with the chest thrown forward and out, anyone with a drooping posture can gain from the practice of this pose.

Watch out for

Keeping a few important points in mind related to the human body at the time of practice of Bird Of Paradise Pose is essential. Given below are some of these.

  • Not to be done if injured at the hip, back or the shoulders: Any kind of injury related to the hip, lower back or the shoulders, will make this pose far more difficult and uneasy and hence best to avoid this practice.
  • If experiencing any kind of shooting pain at the inner thighs or at the upper arms: Listening to the body while practicing any pose is pure smartness and awareness. While Bird Of Paradise can be done by someone with a very flexible body, it still can be tricky if not finding the right alignment while taking the leg up. Here one can pull a nerve without understanding the movement of the leg and hence while practicing this pose, watch for any pain anywhere and make sure you stop right away.
  • Not for those suffering from high blood pressure: In Bird of Paradise Pose, breathing plays a crucial role as the energy required to raise the leg above the hip level is more using the heart muscles and the diaphragm. And hence someone suffering from blood pressure, should avoid this pose, or take guidance or support while doing this pose.
  • Not for pregnant women: Clearly not be done by women who are pregnant as the pressure at the lower abdomen will bring discomfort to the mother as well as the fetus.
  • Using support for better balance if one is still working on body balance: Bird Of Paradise Pose, requires one to remain stable with balance to hold the legs up and if one is still not there, it is better to go slow and use support either with the wall or a partner to begin with.

FURTHER READINGS


Credits

Model Lydie
Yoga Mat b’EARTH  &  b’EARTH X by Beinks
Photographer Sophie Dupont
Content Tummee & Ekhart Yoga

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