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Feature Pose: Elephant Trunk (Eka Hasta Bhujasana)

Published in April/May 2016 Sweat Equity Magazine

Although the direct Sanskrit translation of this posture is “One-Leg-Over-Arm-Pose,” we prefer the more common reference as Elephant Trunk Pose. It leaves more to the mystic’s imagination. The sacred significance of elephants in India is well known. The elephant god, Ganesh, is renowned as the “remover of obstacles,” both internal (as in spiritual obstacles) and external (as in roadblocks to material wealth and success). He is one of the most popular and widely celebrated deities of Hindu mythology today.

Now, aside from impressing your friends with your superhuman yoga strength and flexibility, there are a handful of reasons why Eka Hasta Bhujasana should be included in your repertoire of poses:

  • Builds deep core strength

  • Increases balance, focus, and coordination

  • Opens the hips and pelvis

  • Strengthens the quads of the extended leg

Getting There

Step 1: From Staff Pose, bend the right knee, sliding the right arm underneath and working the leg as high up the arm as you can.

Step 2: ‘Lock’ your leg into place by engaging the hamstrings to squeeze the arm.

Step 3: Round your spine, point your toes, and firmly contract the abdominals.

Step 4: Press evenly into the palms of your hands to lift the hips and extended leg off the floor.

Staying There

  • Keep the collarbones broad and shoulder blades descending to prevent the arms from fatiguing.

  • Use mula bandha to lift from the pelvic floor and support engagement of the abdominals.

  • Hug the muscles to the bones of the straight leg, firmly contracting the quads.

En Route to the Pose . . .

If you’re a beginner, this pose can seem near impossible. Practice steps 1–3 to build the flexibility and core strength needed to achieve the pose. Additionally, you can work with the straight leg on the floor and build strength by lifting only your hips off the mat first. You can also place blocks under the hands for some added leverage. Keep practicing: with a little help from Ganesh, you might enter the pose sooner than you think!

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