PARIVRTTA KOUNDINYASANA/Pose Dedicated To Sage Koundinya (Revolved variation)

Dec 8th, 2018
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By Louise Vas, with the guidance of Yogananth Andiappan
Poses demonstrated by Clara Ho

 

The name of this pose is often mispronounced as “KUNdinyasana”; the correct way of saying it is “COWN-din-yah-sana”. As this pose requires strength and flexibility from different major muscles, proper attention and regulated breathing must be given to achieve the pose. This month’s featured pose is Parivrtta Koundinyasana, a twisting arm balance and variation of Koundinyasana.

WARM – UP

The below warm-up poses are recommended to prepare the body for different movements needed to achieve the final pose.

Ardha Matsyendrasana / Half Lord of the Fishes pose variation

1. Sit on the floor with the knees bent. Place the hands behind the hips with the fingers pointing backwards.
2. Cross the left leg over the right and keep the knees together, with both feet on the floor. Keep the torso upright.
3. Inhale and raise the right arm; on exhale, twist to the left and bring the right elbow to press against the outer part of the left thigh. Hold the left hip.
4. Look towards the left shoulder and hold the pose for a few light breaths.

From the previous pose, increase the stretch to the hips:

5. Keeping the right upper arm pressing against the left thigh or knee, extend the right arm and reach for the right toes.
6. Stay in the twist while pressing the right foot down towards the floor.
7. Hold for a few breaths then release the pose. Repeat both poses with the right leg over the left.
Benefit: Stretches the Back Muscles and improves internal hip rotation.

Seated Twist – Twined legs variation

1. Sit on the floor with the knees bent. Place the hands behind the hips with the fingers pointing backwards.
2. Cross the left leg over the right and slide the left foot under the right calf to twine the legs. Keep the knees together and the torso upright.
3. Inhale and on exhale, drop the knees to the right side.
4. Twist the body to the left and keep the gaze towards the left shoulder.
5. Hold the pose for a few light breaths. Release the pose by bringing the legs back to the starting position. Repeat with the right leg over the left.
Benefit: Lengthens the oblique muscles and improves internal hip rotation, lower back flexibility.

Utthita Dandasana / Upward Plank Pose

1. From tabletop position with the hands and knees on the floor, lift the knees and extend the legs back, coming into a push-up position.
2. Keep the arms straight below the shoulders and the whole body active, lifting the body upwards with the pelvis tilting forward/ scooping in, towards the abdomen.
3. Hold the pose for 3 breaths and return to table top position. Repeat for a few more times.
Benefit: Improves core strength, tones up the arms, legs, abdomen and the back muscles.

Chaturanga Dandasana / Four-limbed Staff pose

1. From Dandasana or plank pose, shift the body forward so that the shoulders go a little over the wrists.
2. Inhale and on exhale, bend the elbows back and lower the body to the same height as the elbows. Keep the arms to the side of the body.
3. Pull the heels back to distribute some weight to the balls of the feet.
4. Keep the gaze straight and engage the abdomen to let the torso centre the body weight.
Benefit: Prepares the shoulders and arms muscles for shoulder protraction and wrist flexion.

Wrist Stretch

1. Come down to the floor on the hands and knees, similar to tabletop pose.
2. Rotate the wrists outwards so that the fingers are pointing towards the knees. Maintain both arms straight.
3. Inhale and on exhale, bring the hips back and feel the stretch on the wrists. Hold for a few breaths.
4. Repeat several times by moving in and out of the pose together with the breath.
Benefit: Extends the muscles of the wrist to take pressure from the arm balance.

Eligibility Pose

Practice the below to have a better understanding of the muscles involved in the final pose.

Chaturanga Dandasana

The practice of Chaturanga Dandasana is a starting point to many arm balances including Koundinyasana. Improve strength and body coordination by practicing regularly.

STEPS

1. Sit on the floor with the torso upright and knees bent, feet on the floor. Place the hands on the floor next to the hips.

2. Cross the left leg over the right and slide the left foot under the right calf to twine the legs. Keep the knees together and the torso upright.

3. Raise the right arm, twist to the left and bring the right elbow to press against the outer part of the left thigh.

4. Place the right hand on the floor and turn the left hand to be in line with the right. Bend the elbows back and lean forwards.

5. Engage the arms, lift the hips off the floor and shift the weight forwards.

FINAL POSE

Lean forwards and slowly raise the feet off the floor. Keep the shoulders parallel and keep the arms engaged.

VARIATION

There are many ways an asana can be performed or interpreted depending on each practitioner, and classic Hatha Yoga text suggests that there are over 8 Million poses.

The same pose can be practiced as an open twist, i.e. instead of having the left leg above the right, the right leg is wrapped around the left. In this example, keep the inner thigh of the right leg on the upper arm.

MODIFICATIONS

The below modifications are available:

For those with limited internal hip rotation
Instead of twining/wrapping the legs around each other, simply keep the legs bent and together.

For those challenged by balance or lacking shoulder strength
Stay in Step 5 and focus on engaging and expanding the shoulders to improve strength.

NEUTRALIZING MOVEMENTS

Neutralizing movements are important for long-term injury prevention; it allows the body to return to its neutral position. Be aware of pressure alert points and listen to your body – do neutralizing movements after slowly coming out of the pose.

Seated chest opening
Sit on the floor with the knees bent, hands behind the hips and fingers pointing back. Inhale and on exhale, push the chest forward and lift the chin. Keep the shoulders away from the ears. Stay for a few light breaths and release the pose. Repeat for two more times.

Seated back expansion and shoulder protraction
Sit on the floor with the knees bent, hands behind the hips and fingers pointing back. Inhale and on exhale, push the chest back into a hunch and bring the chin to the chest. Round the back and pull the abdomen into hunch the back more. Stay for a few breaths and release the pose. Repeat for two more times.

COUNTER POSES

The below counter poses help in relieving any tension created in the wrists, hips and torso.

Wrist Stretch
While seated in Vajrasana, bring the back of the wrists touching, in front of the chest. Inhale and on exhale, lower the shoulders and elbows. Hold for a few breaths and release the hands.

Baddha Konasana / Bound-angle pose
Sit on the floor, bend the knees and bring the bottom of the feet together. Hold the feet firmly. Inhale and on exhale, lengthen the torso upwards and lean forward, coming into a forward bend. Use the elbows to gently press against the thighs. Keep the elbows by the sides of the body and aim to bring the chest towards the shins. Keep the neck engaged and gaze forward.

It is believed that Sage Koundinya was created by the goddess Parvati. Koundinya was a master of the Vedas, an ancient body of text with hymns, rituals, charms and incantations. He is a known devotee of Lord Ganesha, and later on predicted the birth of Prince Siddharta. The prince would later on be an enlightened Buddha, and Koundinya, from the time of the prediction, vowed to be a steadfast follower of Buddha.As with all arm balances, a regular practice will greatly improve upper body strength and develop self-esteem in the practitioner. Since in arm balances like Parivrtta Koundinyasana the shoulders and arms bear the weight of the body, approach the pose with careful alertness to avoid injury.Practice under the guidance of a qualified and experienced teacher to learn techniques and fully enjoy the yoga journey.

Asana Journal

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