Benefits: Strengthens the arms and abdominal muscles. Stretches the hips and groins.
Also Known As: One-leg-over-arm pose
1. Begin sitting in a comfortable, cross-legged position, such as sukhasana (easy pose), with the spine long and the shoulders stacked over the hips. Take several breaths here.
2. Lift your right shin off the floor with your hands. Cradle the lower leg in your arms, keeping the shin roughly parallel with the floor. You can place your right knee in the crook of your right elbow and your right foot in the crook of your left elbow, if possible. As an alternative, hold the right knee with your right hand and the left knee with your left hand or slide both arms under your calf and support the lower leg that way. Which ever configuration you choose, flex the right foot and try to keep sitting up straight and tall. Avoid rounding the spine forward or leaning too far backwards.
3. Rock the cradled right leg gently back and forth in the hip socket to loosen up your hip.
4. After spending a few breaths moving your leg, come back to center. Release the right arm from the right knee.
5. Thread the right arm under the right knee, placing the right hand on the ground just outside the right buttock. Keep the right arm bent at the elbow and the back of your right knee resting on your upper arm.
6. You can use your left hand on the right foot to work the right calf as close as possible to the right shoulder. The back of your right thigh will be on the back of your right upper arm. The higher up you can get the calf on your arm, the smoother the rest of the pose will be.
7. Straighten and extend the left leg on the floor in front of you, as in a half staff pose (dandasana).
8. Release the left arm and place your left hand on the floor outside the left thigh. Your two hands should be parallel.
9. Inhale deeply and engage your core and extended left leg. On an exhalation, press into both palms and lift your butt and left leg off the floor. The palms of your hands are the only remaining points of contact with the ground.
10. Stay up for several breaths. Keeping the muscles of the left leg hugging to the bone and the left foot flexed will make it easier to keep that leg lifted off the floor.
11. Release to the ground on an exhalation.
12. Return to easy pose and take at least five breaths before trying the other side. Since the pose is dependent on your hip and groin flexibility in getting your leg high up on your arm, you will probably find that one side is easier than the other. Try to notice this difference but not make judgments based on it.
Beginners: If you are beginner, this pose may seem quite impossible. But if you encounter it in a mixed-level class, for instance, it is helpful to follow along as each step builds the flexibility and strength you need for the eventual final posture. Doing the first three steps listed here would be very appropriate for a beginner and will do a lot to open the hips. As you progress, attempting to lift up will increase your core strength.