Shortcomings in our attitudes, our egoic will, and our forceful ambition are revealed in practice towards peak postures. These aspects show up on the mat, since they are embodiments of our internal growth from one state of yogic skill to the next.
Thankfully, complex arm balances that require our bodies to be not only strong and capable but also supple and intelligent can train our yogic attitude towards self-realization, and away from athletic prowess. Coordinating our mental stamina, physical ability and right intention sets us on a path towards the pairing of postures dedicated to the sage known as Koundinya.
Eka Pada Koundinyasana I is a twisting arm balance posture that stimulates the digestive tract and sides of the spine. It improves balance, spinal articulation and challenges the mind to remain stable.
A popular entry into Eka Pada is via tripod headstand, though coming in from Side Crow isn't altogether impossible.
Eka Pada Koundinyasana II is not twisted. In this variation, both legs are extended from the pelvis. One leg extends directly out of the hip socket in a neutral position, as in Plank Pose, while the other leg externally rotates and hugs down onto the back of it’s tricep.
The history on Koundinya is not consistent, though one story references him as being among the select few to receive the first teaching from Lord Buddha, Siddartha. Remember that non-violence applies to our process of practice. Rather than jumping up to get off the ground, we really need to leverage ourselves forward with the use of our upper body strength and stable shoulders.
The ability to hold Chaturunga Dandasana while maintaining evenness in your breathing is a pre-requisite for these two fancy arm balance postures. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you into it.
Going into your discomfort zone requires a level of bravery that is consciously made: The visceral feel of falling forward can be overcome by finding flight. Trust your ability to lean in more than you think is necessary.