April showers bring May flowers, which is why our pose of the month is bird of paradise (aka SVARGA DVIJASANA) the flowers of the Birds of Paradise resemble a brightly colored bird in flight and so the name Birds of Paradise is quite fitting. Watching someone go into the pose looks as if a flower is blooming.
This advanced standing posture has many benefits:
- Strengthens the hips, pelvis, and quadriceps.
- Lengthens the hamstrings and calves.
- Tones the legs.
- Opens the shoulders.
- Challenges your balance.
Take a forward fold and keep length in your spine. Take your feet to the width of your mat. Inhale to reach and lengthen your right arm, then exhale, reach your arm through your legs and wrap it around your right upper thigh (hand on hip). Inhale and lengthen your left arm, reach around your back to bind. If you can, clasp your left wrist with your right hand. Breathe here and open your chest.
Now walk your right foot in slightly, concentrate your weight in your left foot. Keep your abs engaged and on an inhale, come up to standing – bringing your right leg with you. Once you’re up, make sure your heart is open and straighten your right leg. Reach your toes wide. Stay with it. Keep breathing. Now take your gaze over your left shoulder.
This posture can be modified by using a strap if your shoulders are tight, keeping a bent knee in the lifted leg if the hamstrings are tight and you can level up by going from an extended side angle into the pose. Play, blossom and grow!