Step-by-Step Breakdown: 8-Angle Pose
Eight-angle pose is a lot less scary to begin tinkering around with than some of the other arm balances, as you start from a seated position rather than coming down into it. (Read: Much less danger of face-planting, even if you’re on a pool table as I demonstrated in this SHAPE Yoga Anywhere video!) Also, a lot like in shoulder press pose where your legs are squeezing your shoulders, in eight-angle, you have your thighs squeezing together over your arm to help hold you up, giving you an extra layer of support so it’s not 100 percent arms and abs.
Before coming into any arm balance, it is good to activate your core, so starting with some repetitions of boat and low boat pose is a great idea: Try 10 of each!
To start to warm up your hips, rest in happy baby, taking your knees into your elbows and the outer edges of your feet in your hands. If it feels good, you can play with extending one leg at a time.
Take some rock and rolls on your back, gain a little momentum, and rock and roll your way up to forward bend. Hang out in forward fold, grabbing opposite elbows and swaying side to side like a rag doll.
Next, come to a wide-legged forward fold and grab your right ankle with your left hand, reaching your right arm to the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
Then start with wide side lunges to open and warm your hips: Bend one knee while lengthening the opposite leg, keeping your hands on the ground to open your inner thigh and hip. Alternate from side to side five times on each side, crawling your hands along the floor as you go, and hanging out in any one place that feels great along the way, if you like.
Now that you’re nice and warm, have a seat. Lengthen both legs in front of you and fold over, taking five deep breaths. To get into eight-angle pose: Keeping your left leg long, bend your right knee and place your right foot inside of your left thigh, then fold over your right leg. Stay for five breaths.
Come up to sit and hug your right knee in towards your chest with your arms. If there’s room press the bottom of your right foot into your left elbow, wrap your right arm around your right knee and shin, and join your hands to cradle the leg. If that hurts your knee, hold your right foot with your left hand and your right knee with your right hand. Lengthen your torso and sit up tall. Relax your shoulders downward. Sway your leg from side to side to open your hip.
If your hips feel open, hook your right hand under your right calf and bring your right leg and the underside of your knee to rest on top of your right shoulder.
Then, cross your left ankle over your right. Test it out just by squeezing your thighs into your upper arm to see how the leg motion feels. Then resituate your leg, wiggling your right shoulder underneath your right knee. With both of your hands shoulder's distance apart on the ground, start to bend your elbows as you squeeze your legs together on your right upper arm.
Reach your chest forward as your weight transfers into your hands (pressing into your fingertips helps).
Ta-da! Eight-angle pose! Hang out here for as long as you wish, then repeat on the other side.