Oh Eight Angle Pose, you elusive beauty. I’ll never understand how yogis make this pose look so effortless in pictures when every attempt has left me facedown on the floor, or stuck on the ground.
Regardless of its difficulty, both the pose itself and the preparations have wonderful holistic benefits and should be kept in mind, even if we never accomplish the full expression of the pose.
First and foremost, Eight Angle Pose is an arm balance. It requires a lot of strength, both in the arms and the core, practice, and patience.
Beyond that, this pose is about eliciting opposite forces to reach your goal. You are simultaneously hugging in to your core, keeping the elbows close to the body, and twisting the ankles together, while trying to stay long through the legs and chest. We are at the same time holding on and letting go.
Thus, in more ways that one, this pose is about balance. It teaches us that life is a delicate balance of pushing and pulling. We have to be able to navigate challenging situations by remaining calm and centered. We have to find a way to be strong and rooted, yet still able to grow tall and long. This balancing act is an important lesson for mastering most yoga poses, but especially advanced ones like Eight Angle.
Accepting Things the Way They Are
This pose got its Sanskrit name, Astavakrasana, from the ancient sage Astavakra.
As the legend goes, he was cursed by his father while in the womb, and as a result his body was crooked in eight places. Astavakra did not let this physical imperfection hold him back. He is quoted as saying, “If one thinks of oneself as free, one is free, and if one thinks of oneself as bound, one is bound.”
It is in this wisdom that we see the importance of mental strength, a key to a happy life, and often a key to achieving difficult poses. We can not let our minds tell us that we are too weak or too inflexible to master tough poses. We need to be both confident and humble to accept our bodies as they are and have the patience to work our way up to great things.
This process could takes weeks, months, or even years. All along, it is necessary to accept things exactly how they are in that moment without judgement of ourselves.
Each step is a crucial part of the puzzle, a teaching moment for us to reflect on and learn from. If and when we do make our way to Eight Angle Pose, our mental strength and focus allows us to do the same with our body.
Fueling the Solar Plexus
Much of finding this mental strength is in letting go of what no longer serves us. Eight Angle Pose, and the preparatory core strengthening poses all focus on our Solar Plexus, the place below the sternum and above the navel. This is the area where our self-esteem, confidence, and insecurity live.
When we have a thriving Solar Plexus, we feel strong, powerful, and totally confident. When it is weak, we lack in all of these things. Practicing poses that bring light to this area are invaluable to our sense of self. By physically building ourselves up, we are able to do the same emotionally and mentally.
Think about how great it feels when you achieve a challenging pose for the first time. This sense of confidence carriers on far beyond your mat. It’s powerful stuff and truly changes the way you think about yourself.
Remember, it’s ok if you never find your way to Eight Angle Pose. As yogis say, it’s not as much about the pose as it is about what you find on the way there. The lessons you learn about yourself while working up to this pose will be invaluable.
You’ll hear the voice of self criticism, you’ll find your limits physically and mentally, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find the confidence to tell these things goodbye.
What benefits have you found from practicing Eight Angle Pose? Share them with us in the comments below!