The Astavakrasana pose, or the eight angle pose, is an advanced arm balance that builds your wrists, arms, abs and legs and works your spinal rotation. Also called the Scissors pose, your legs form the shape of a pair of scissors that clamp down on one of your arms like a nutcracker. To create the eight angles of the pose requires upper-body strength, flexibility, balance and concentration. As long as you rely on technique, you don’t need to muscle your way into it, according to yoga instructor Aaddil Palkhivala in Colleen Morton Busch’s article “Heroes, Saints and Sages” in “Yoga Journal.” While some poses are designed to encourage hard work, this pose teaches you to work less and use your knowledge to arrange your body parts as if they’re pieces in a puzzle.
The Scissor Pose
Stand with your back erect and feet separated. Exhale and bend forward at the hips. Keep your knees slightly bent.
Slide your right arm to the inside and behind your right leg.
Press your right hand on the ground and on the outside of your right foot.
Move your right arm across the back of your right knee until your knee rests on the back of your right shoulder.
Slide your left foot sideways and to the right, using your right shoulder as a brace for your right knee.
Cross your left foot over your right foot. Hook your ankles.
Shift your weight to your left arm. Start to raise your feet a few inches off the ground.
Exhale and flex your elbows, leaning your trunk forward. Lower your trunk until it’s parallel to the floor.
Fully extend your legs to the right, keeping them parallel to the ground.
Clasp the upper part of your arm between your thighs, rotating your trunk to the left.
Direct your gaze to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your body. Hold the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.
- To prepare for the Scissor pose, you can practice forward bends to achieve greater flexibility and strength in your lower back, hips and legs. Also strengthen your abdominals by doing Full and Half Boat poses.
- If you’re trying the Scissor pose for the first time, slowly work through each step. Rushing to achieve the pose can lead to cramps, muscle strains and injury.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.