First open the hips by placing your feet 3-4 feet apart, front knee bent 90 degrees over the ankle, back leg extended, feet grounded. As you take the thighs back and apart, bow forward onto your forearms or hands. Keeping your thighs wide, root your tail into the core of the pelvis and melt into the heart for softness, noticing, and if ready, releasing any fear that might be blocking you from opening.
After a few breaths, keeping your thighs wide and tail in, tuck shoulder behind the front knee and press your hand onto the outer shin bone to hug it to the midline, then interlace the fingers behind the back to open the shoulders some more. Now place both hands on the floor, shoulder width apart, chatturanga-style. The same side arm becomes a sturdy platform for the front thigh to rest on.
Pivot onto the ball of the back foot and turn the front leg inward so the inner upper thigh has a strong connection with the upper arm. Keep your heart open and soft; the focal point for the balance is right there at the base of the sternum.
Like on a teeter-totter, press down with the front leg onto the shelf of the upper arm, hug the back leg strong to the midline and tip forward into the heart. With trust and courage you’ll take flight. To come out of the pose, lower the ball of the back foot onto the floor and sweep the front leg back to join the back leg. Rest!
At age 20, I left my native country, Sweden, for a soul search and discovered yoga in Los Angeles. I fell in love with my first yoga class at Yoga Works, so I stayed in L.A. and danced and practiced yoga every day for a couple of years. Next I moved to northern California and immersed myself in a two-year intensive Movement and Expressive Arts program with Anna Halprin and the Life/Art Process. A few years after I began teaching yoga, I discovered Anusara yoga and John Friend; this gave me wings to fly. Looking back 16 years later, yoga has been the one consistent part of my life.
Since that first class it has been a safe haven for me, a secure space to explore body, heart, mind, breath and spirit. As a teacher and student, I love to share this connection that brings us all together as one. It’s been a gentle and uplifting path, a journey ofacceptance, wholeness, empowerment, change and growth.
The greatest gift I am continuously reminded of on the mat and while teaching is learning how to not push anything in life or in a pose. Like birthing, the pushing comes naturally when the body is ready. By staying open to possibilities and practice, the postures unfold in their own beautiful timing and like flowers, blossom when ready to bloom.
I love teaching yoga. It’s a journey of embracing the full range of life, the light and the dark, a true celebration of the heart. My intention in teaching and practicing yoga is to be reminded of the pure essence of who we are, the child-like spirit, the open heart, the fluid body, the free spirit, the creative, playful mind.
The journey of exploring Eka Pada Koundinyasana II offers us just that, being a kid on a teeter-totter. Within the pose we get to learn how to fly close to the ground and how to take off in mid-air. With trust in our hearts and arms, our legs and hips spread wide open like wings, we are in for an exhilarating ride.
Confidence, core strength, focus and trust combined with a willingness to fall and laugh – it’s a humbling journey. To fully benefit from the pose, we need lightness, patience, persistence and passion.