Dissecting Svarga Dvijasana - Bird of Paradise Pose

 Photo credit: https://www.yogatoday.com/files/images/uploads/classes/SP011_Simon_Coco_BirdOfParadise_Adjusting_3F7A1684_Thumb_BC.jpg

Photo credit: https://www.yogatoday.com/files/images/uploads/classes/SP011_Simon_Coco_BirdOfParadise_Adjusting_3F7A1684_Thumb_BC.jpg

Svarga = Paradise, Dvija = Twice Born

Holistic benefits

  • Requires great flexibility in hips and shoulders, therefore opens these joints

  • Builds proprioception, balance and stability

  • Promotes confidence, perseverance and patience

  • Strengthens calves, quadriceps, and glutes

  • Engages core and pelvic floor to maintain balance, therefore building core strength and consequently lumbar spine stability

  • Develops focus by using drishti (gaze or focal point), as well as concentration

  • Improves coordination

  • Binding enhances fine motor skills and coordination of hands and fingers

  • Tones legs

 

Therapeutic applications

  • Opens the hips for emotional release.
  • To build grace, calmness and composure. Finding comfort in the deepest corners of discomfort.
  • Learning sthira (steadiness) and sukha (ease).
  • Like the flower growing roots in the standing leg and blossoming in the floating leg, therefore creating openness in the torso and difficult situations.
  • Potentially calms the nervous system, soothes anxiety and quiets the mind through increased focus.

 

Props

Use a strap if hands don’t quite reach in the bind.

 

Variations of pose

For tight hips - lie in Supta Padangusthasana using gravity to provide more ease and build on your flexibility.

 

Variations for beginners

For tight chest and shoulders - avoid binding, place a slight bend in the knee of the floating leg and grab the shin.

Another option is to begin seated in a chair, then bind and lift into the balance.

 

Variations for advanced

 Photo credit: https://www.yogajournal.com/.image/t_share/MTQ2MTgwNzI0MDE5MzczNjAw/claire-missingham.jpg

Photo credit: https://www.yogajournal.com/.image/t_share/MTQ2MTgwNzI0MDE5MzczNjAw/claire-missingham.jpg

Open the floating leg all the way up to the sky to create 180 degrees between the legs. Once here, grab the floating leg with the opposite hand overhead.

Have the floating leg coming across the body and twist (see image above).

 

Contraindications

Any pain or injury of the shoulders, low back, hips, pelvis, hamstrings, or knees.

 

Energy Anatomy

‘Like the flower this pose is named after, we stand tall and connect to an energy of strength, grace, and beauty.’ ( https://flowingyogini.com/2014/06/10/pose-of-the-week-bird-of-paradise-svarga-dvidasana/ )

This pose opens the chest and heart (Anahata chakra) to make more room for giving and receiving love. ‘Finding expansion in that spiritual heart – the place where love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness is born.’ ( http://www.doyouyoga.com/4-easy-heart-opening-poses/ )

Patanjali explains in Yoga Sutra II.48 that once the balance between opposites is achieved, “thereafter one is undisturbed by the dualities.” ( http://www.yogajournal.com/article/advanced/paradise-found-2/ )

 

Alignment focus points, and why

Step by step:

  • Start in Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended side angle).
  • Inhale and commence a half bind by placing the left arm to the base of the spine.
  • Exhale to move into the full bind by reaching the right arm under the right thigh and linking hands on the outside of the right thigh.
  • Draw shoulder blades together.
  • Turn chest towards the sky.
  • Gaze to the right toes.
  • Inhale, place your weight into the right leg and bring the left leg to meet the right (hip width apart), in a sort of bound variation of Utkatasana.
  • Shift the weight into the left leg now, grounding through pada bandha (foot lock).
  • Inhale and slowly begin to stand upright.
  • Bring drishti to the horizon or above.
  • Use Ujjayi breath to steady yourself.
  • Gradually straighten the right leg.
  • Engage upper back muscles to maintain security in the bind.
  • To come out, exhale and release the right leg to the floor.
  • Repeat on left side.

Side notes:

  • Keep shoulders and legs engaged at all times to avoid injury or loss of balance.
  • This is a challenging pose that should be taken slowly.
  • Make sure you’re sufficiently heated for this pose (e.g. minimum of 5x Surya Namaskar A, 3x Surya Namaskar B, Warrior II and Prasarita Padottanasana).
  • Might be useful to start the practice with Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) ‘to create concentration and awareness of your body parts, and to fully oxygenate your soft tissues for stretching.’ ( http://www.doyouyoga.com/how-to-build-a-sequence-around-bird-of-paradise-12746/ )

 

Following poses

  • Uttanasana (forward fold) - to lengthen out the spine.
  • Camatkarasana (wild thing) - to open hips in opposite direction.

 

By Alyssa McLeod

 

References

Yoga Journal. 2014. 4 Prep Poses for Bird of Paradise. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/prep-poses-bird-paradise/. [Accessed 21 September 2016].

DOYOUYOGA.COM. 2016. How to Do Svarga Dvijasana: Bird of Paradise Pose. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.doyouyoga.com/how-to-do-svarga-dvijasana-bird-of-paradise-pose-41713/. [Accessed 21 September 2016].

Gaia. 2016. Bird of Paradise - Svarga Dvijasana | Gaia - My Yoga. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.gaia.com/pose/bird-paradise-svarga-dvijasana. [Accessed 21 September 2016].