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Season 2 - Episode 8

Eka Pada Koundinyasa

20 min - Tutorial


Brenda guides us through a series of postures designed to open the shoulders, hip flexors, and hamstrings in preparation for Eka Pada Koundinyasa (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I). You will feel a sweet lightness and confidence as you approach this flying arm balance.
What You'll Need: Block (2)

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Welcome back. For this session we're going to dive into Ekapada Kundinyasana. So in Sanskrit, Eka means one, Padafut. Kundin is a sage, so it's a pose dedicated to a sage, asana pose. So one-footed dedicated pose. So this is a more advanced pose. We're going to be working strong as if we're in Chaturanga in an arm balance with the legs extended. So we're going to work deeply into the hip flexors, shoulders, and hamstrings. So some benefits to this is, one, being an advanced pose, building confidence and feeling that lightness in an arm balance. And then some things that you need to think about if this pose is not for you is, again, any pain in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and hamstrings because we'll be reaching long. Great. So in terms of energetics and the energy here, it's upon a grounding, a shooting down our body, and an inhale, a lengthening, a prana energy value of floating upwards. So to start we're going to go ahead and move into Downward Facing Dog. And just taking the feet hip distance apart, hand shoulder distance apart. Start to rotate inner upper arms forward, outer arms back, right? So we're just warming up here, starting to tap into the hamstrings, lengthening through the torso. So just taking a few rounds of breath here. Right now this will translate into the poses. We're going to need to tap into our hamstrings. We're going to need to lengthen through our torso. And then that shoulder action, again, same as when we're in Chaturanga, there's that draw of inner upper arms for the external rotation. And just let the head be, arms framing the ears. Keep working the shoulder rotation. Good. On an inhale, just bring the right foot forward, one step, 20 steps, doesn't matter. Grab your two blocks, bring them to your outsides, draw the shoulders back, and from here you've got, you know, three different heights you can play with on your blocks. From here, start to draw the right hip back and pause, draw the heart forward. So again, feeling shoulder blades, drawing towards each other, but still broadening through the back. On an inhale, lengthen, drawing the right hip back and pause. So here you can either keep the back heel lifted or start to draw it down. Right hip still drawing back. Inhale, come forward, let the heart kind of ripple all the way to peak forward. On an exhale, lift the hips, press the right hip back, lengthen through the right leg, maybe a little micro-bend. Option to keep the back heel lifted or start to press it down. Inhale, come back. Good. Feel that ripple, arms active, chest shining forward. Good. Lengthen, extend, right hip back option, left heel moves down, and maybe the right pause of the foot lift up so you're digging into the heel. Good. Inhale, come back. Finding a lunge, activate through the right hip. Good. Exhale, lengthen. Maybe again, front foot lifts, back heel drops. Inhale, come back. Slide the blocks off to the side, come back, downward facing dog, and just take a breath. Keeping your blocks where they are because we're moving into the opposite side. Nice. Left foot comes forward. Bring your blocks in. Pause here in a lunge, start to swoop heart forward. Good. Find that play of deepening the armpits through the rotation of the upper arms. And inhale, lengthen. Good. Start with the back heel lifted. Activate left hip back. Draw the heart forward on it. Inhale. Good. Exhale, shift the hips back. Inhale, draw it forward and pause. And take it back. Left hip scoots option of taking the back heel towards the floor. Inhale. Exhale. This time, option as you drop the back heel, lift the front of the foot, slide back so you can see. Dig the heel in. Keep a little micro bend through the knee. And inhale, come back. Heart comes forward. Shoulder blades support the heart shining. And then slide it back. Good. Keeping sides in the neck long. Good. One more. Back heel lifts. Good. Last one. Then slide the blocks aside. Palms down. Step back downward facing dog. I'm just finding neutral here. Risk creases parallel. Check that the outer edges of the feet are parallel with the outer edges of the mat. Find the rotation again through the upper arms externally rotating. And then step the right foot forward. From here, you can use your blocks or you can keep fingertips on the floor. Spine long and lengthening. From here, we're just going to move through the upper thoracic, the upper back. On an inhale, shine the heart forward. It's hard to tap in here. Exhale, round just the upper back. And inhale, draw it forward as the shoulder blades draw together, activating your rhomboids. That's gonna draw the shoulders back, bring the heart forward. Exhale, a little round creating space. Inhale, draw it forward. Good. Press the palms down, stepping back. So that'll translate into our pose as we're moving into chaturanga arms. We want to find the balance between that action of broadening through the back, broadening through the chest, and creating stability.

Left foot comes forward. Option of hands on the floor or on a block. Inhale, draw the heart forward. Exhale, round just the upper back. Inhale, feel the shoulder blades come in. Exhale, round. As you do, activate this area. So spreading through the shoulder blades. Inhale, forward. Good. Step on back, downward facing dog. Let the head go. Good. Wrap the shoulders. Inhale, bring the right foot forward. Bring the left knee and shin to the earth. Slide the hips back. Ardha hanumanasana. So activating through the right foot. Right pinky side of foot draws back. Hips stay in line with the left knee plane. And inhale, lift up, and then exhale, fold in. So we want to find length through the torso. A little draw back of belly button to spine. And then how I like to get into this pose is to seal my heel down, almost as if I'm dragging it back. So that way I have a little bend in my knee, and then I draw my right hip back. And I'm trying to shine my heart forward. And you can also use blocks here. Good. Slowly sliding forward. Bring the palms down, step it back, downward facing dog. And checking in, shoulders, back, chest. So now you can start to play with what does it feel like to find that balance between the shoulder blades coming towards each other and broadening through the back. Good. Slowly bring the left foot forward. Right knee and shin down, slide the hips back, flex the left foot. Checking in, right and left hip are in the same plane as the right knee. Flex the foot, draw the pinky side of the foot back. And then inhale, come halfway up. Exhale, fold it in. Find the digging of the heel, a little bend, and then as if you're dragging it back, it'll activate the left hip to go back. All right, so here is where we're trying to tap in and warm up the hamstrings a little bit.

Because in Ekapadukundhanyasana, as we're in Chaturanga in the upper body, the legs are expanding and extending, coming into almost a Hanumanasana. A few more breaths. Good. Slowly bring the palms down, shift forward, back into a lunge, and then step back downward facing dog. Good. Feeling the press rooting through the palms, the draw of the inner upper arms forward, and then rotate the forearms back internally. Right, so the eyes of the elbows end up with this diagonal position. Good. And inhale, slide forward to a plank pose. Feel the weight in your hands stacking, wrists, elbows, shoulders. Find that same draw, inner upper arms forward, outer arms back, externally rotating. Sides of the neck long, shift forward, exhale to your degree of Chaturanga. Right, shoulders no lower than elbows. Stay here. Good. Come on back up. Right, remember you can always go to your knees. Shift forward, Chaturanga. Come on back up. One more.

Shift forward, Chaturanga. Come on back up, back into downward facing dog. So when you move into Chaturanga, the shift forward, so the elbows are over the wrists, and let the shoulder head stay lifted above the elbows. On an inhale, bring the right foot forward. From here, coming into lizard pose. So we're going to start back niche into the earth, and you can go palms to the earth and hang out right here. This can feel lovely. Take the right hip back. You can bring the block to the inside, forearms to the block. Right, so notice as you come down, if you are coming down, and the block has different levels, so it can be lovely. Keep a press of the right forearm down. We tend to want to lift the side, the inside forearm, and just soften. You can also come right down onto the floor. So taking a few breaths here. So even here, even if you're starting to like, okay, I want to let the head go a little bit. See if you can still create that action of shoulder blades pressing in towards the front body. Pressing and supporting the heart shining forward. Right, so this might be fine. For some, you might want to turn it up a little bit. Press down on the top of the foot. So here you can start to activate right hip back, left thigh forward, and you can feel this strong danda, the strong staff, all the way through the spine. Exhale, take the niche in down. If it's up, maybe taking a few more breaths. If you've been using the block, maybe try it without. Good. As you start to sit up, toe heel the foot inside, hands frame the foot, shift the hips back, aardha hanuman. Awesome, that should feel lovely. Right, so you have the choice to stay here. Since it's the second round, if you want to move into full hanuman, start to slide the right heel out, left thigh back. Right, and if you're kind of like, this feels okay, but you can also create a support. If you lift up, take the right, take the block under the right hamstring, dig the front heel in, right heel back, slide. And this gives us a nice long lift. You can keep fingertips on the floor. You can also use two blocks on the side. So notice here, as I'm lifting and shining my heart forward, my ribcage wants to come up, can I find neutral? Just taking a few breaths here. Creating a scissoring action, inner thighs draw in towards each other here. And engaging mula bandha, so a light lift of the pelvic floor muscles. Engaging udiyada bandha, right about two or three finger distance below the belly button. There's a little draw up and back.

It's this lightness and lift, and when we start playing into arm balances, engaging the bandhas really gives us a lift up, a lightness. Right, it could just be that little piece in the practice that adds a little and you find it. Good. Taking another few breaths here, if you'd like, you can start to move the block away. Again, not forcing when we get into the hamstrings, waiting for the invitation to go deeper. And when you're ready, come on back, making your transition back to downward facing dog. Feet hip distance. And right, if it feels good and you just kind of want to fidget it out, feel free. I like to press my heel down towards the floor, not getting caught up if they're touching or not, but just in that direction strong, so I can really tap into my hamstrings here. Good. Slowly bring the left foot forward. Right, bring the hand inside the left thigh, setting up for lizard pose. So bringing the right knee shin down. Ah, so right here might be plenty. For some, might come down onto the block. Remember different levels in the block so you can hang out there. And for some, you might just go right down onto the floor. So again, even if you're tired of holding up your head 12, 13 pounds that lead us around all day, can let it go a little bit here. But I'm going to ask that you draw the heart forward. Engaging that balance of opposite poses here where we start to draw the heart forward but still broaden through the back. Right, so it can create stability. Sides the neck long. An option to stay here or if you'd like you can slide the block aside if you've been using one just to see if you can come down. So again, remembering that oftentimes this left side, the side closest inside, will start to want to lift and we'll want to dump our weight into the outside forearm. So you can press equal weight down. Draw the knee in towards the shoulder and then draw the heart forward. Nice and slowly come on up to your palms. Toe heel the foot inside and then shift the hips back. Art a hanumanasana. Inhale, come halfway up.

Exhale, fold in or if you'd like to move into full hanumanasana, take the left leg out, right leg back, and start to lower yourself down. So remember that you have a block or props you can lift up. Take the block under your front thigh. Dig the heel in. Reach the foot back. Use the scissoring action to lift up. This is where we can start to really tap into our bandhas again. Pelvic floor muscles lift. Find udiyana and see if you can catch that lightness. So there's gonna be in this full pose, there's a strength, a stability, but a sweet lightness. Just let yourself be. Bring the hands back down. If you were up on a block you might just take a few breaths coming down. Remember you can use blocks on the side too. Just a pause. So activating through the hips, right hip draws forward. Okay and then we make it on back to downward facing dog. Slide it forward, palms down, step it back. So in between just using downward facing dog as a resting place. And so at this time we're gonna go into lizard pose again with the back leg active. Draw the right foot forward. So back legs gonna stay up this time. So either stay right here or start to lower down onto the forearms. And so I like to just take my forehead right to my thumbs. Draw the right knee in towards the right shoulder. And then how we get into this pose, I come up onto my palms. I start to work my right shoulder underneath my right thigh. I use my right hand as a almost like I'm putting my leg on like a backpack strap. So it's stabilizing. I want to work under my right shoulder. Right shoulder working under. And then I bring my palms down. So I'm setting up for chaturanga. Inching my right foot forward.

I'm gonna reach away, slide forward so elbows drift over the wrists. I like to take my gaze towards my extended foot. Keep the shoulders above the elbows. Lengthen. Get big. Take up space. Right to come out you can either step back as you came in or just take it right into chaturanga. Right and for this practice we'll come back up back into downward facing dog. Good. Taking a pause. Good. Second side. Left foot bring it forward. Left hand inside. Keep the back leg active and lifted. An option to stay right here or start to come down onto the forearms. If you feel cheated because on the other side I forgot to press up the right leg, feel free to come back and play with that action. Or stay right here because it might feel a little more fresh. Draw the heart forward and maybe again this little action of letting the forehead just rest on the thumbs. Good. Using your breath, your inhales feel the lift, the lightness. In the exhale there's a grounding, a rooting. So come on up back onto the palms. Left shoulder is gonna go underneath the left thigh and then you're gonna use your left hand on the calf. Swoop it on like a backpack strap. Right. So you're getting it under. Bring the palm down. So you're moving into chaturanga. Shift the hips forward as you take the left foot forward. Slide forward and then the feet are reaching away from each other. Lift the shoulders up. Draw the outer arms in and the right arm isn't holding me up. Good. Pause, reach. Good. Making your transition. Back up.

Downward-facing dog. Yee-haw. Okay. Come on down to your knees. So ekapada kunde yasna. One-footed sage pose. It's an advanced posture, right? It's a way to build strength, a way to build confidence. It's a way to also learn how to float, be light, right? So we also have to be careful. A lot of pressure on the rest, a lot of pressure on the shoulders. So really making sure that we keep our shoulders up above our elbows. Great. Thank you for joining me. Namaste.


Katherine M
1 person likes this.
Thank you! I love how challenging yet simple your offering is.
Hannah S
1 person likes this.
Thank you Brenda, I really enjoy this and the other Step by Steps!
Melisse R
1 person likes this.
Love the preparation steps and their full explanation....until the very end.... What action helps the back leg lift rather than remain on the floor??
Brenda Lear
Hi Melisse, Thanks for your note. Sorry I left you hanging a bit in the is definitely a challenge teaching to a camera without the instant feedback from live students (I am always learning, so I appreciate your note.) Hopefully this helps: Instead of focusing on the back leg lifting, think about extension through the front leg (which does take a bit of flexibility in the hamstring and hip flexors), simultaneously shining your heart gently forward. This will provide leverage for the back leg to begin to feel buoyant. Try to avoid muscling though the pose and explore the length and expansion of the pose. It takes time and patience (and practice) to find the balance. Enjoy a playful journey into the pose and let me know if this helps.
Bridgid M
one of my favorite quotes would apply to Eka Pada Koundinyasa "If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." 

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