Grasshopper Pose, aka Dragonfly Pose (Maksikanagasana) is a challenging but doable arm balance that requires strength and control in both the upper body and the thighs. However, strength is not the only element here, as the hips and spine need to be open as well.
This posture combines a deep twist with a hip opener, so be sure that your body is warm before you try it. One of the most difficult aspects of this posture is just figuring out what goes where, so it’s probably easiest to approach it one step at a time.
- Set yourself up. Come to standing with your feet together, and then bend your knees like you are coming into Chair. Place your left ankle on top of your right thigh, then sink your hips back and down. Your legs should resemble a “figure 4” in this position.
- Find the twist. Once you feel balanced, bring your hands into prayer and then twist, drawing your left elbow to the sole of your left foot. Try to aim your thumbs at your heart center and pull your right shoulder back in order to find a full twist. Press your palms firmly together to open up the chest.
- Prepare for the balance. Begin to bend your right knee further so you can place your hands on the mat shoulder width distance apart to the right of your standing leg. The left foot will need to remain in position on top of the left tricep as you place your hands on the floor. This is where things may get messy as it’s difficult to hold your shape. Stabilize with your core muscles in order to keep it together.
- Shift the weight. Once your hands are on the floor, begin to shift the weight out of the standing leg and into your upper body. Bend your elbows like you are coming into Chaturanga Dandasana and then squeeze them together to stabilize through the chest.
- Lift the leg. When you have shifted forward so much that there is little weight left in your right foot, use the strength of your inner thigh to lift the entire right leg off the ground.
- Try it on the other side!
Step It Up: Grasshopper Variations
1. Mating Grasshopper: This variation requires lots of core control as you thread the right leg between your arms and then bend the knee to wrap around your left arm. Squeeze your elbows together while maneuvering the leg to stabilize the upper body. Be sure to continue to press through the entire surface area of your hands as you move the right leg around. Don't forget the hands, or you'll to end up with sore wrists.
2. Get Crazy With It: This variation is all about balance and finding that sweet spot. Instead of wrapping the right leg around the arm in the first variation, this time you step (lightly) on your left hand. Start by coming up onto the right fingertips and when you feel steady, lift the arm.
- Spend some time in Pigeon Pose first in order to open up the hips.
- If you come into step one and find that you can’t quite get the left knee parallel to the floor, you might just need to take a step back and work towards opening up the gluteus muscles and other lateral rotators of the thigh. This will happen through in your regular yoga practice.
- Spread your fingers and make sure you are pressing every part of your hand into the floor. You want to increase the surface area of your hands as much as possible to feel solid in the balance.
- Remember to breathe—your muscles need the oxygen!
- Don’t give up. You might need to try this a thousand times before you finally get into it. Be assured that in every moment you spend practicing, you are getting a little closer. When it comes to yoga, failure is simply a synonym for progress.
Let us know how your Grasshopper goes in the comments!