Bhuja Pīḍāsana translates to Arm Pressure Posture, or shoulder-pressing pose. Bhuja, means arm/shoulder, Pida, means pressure, and Asana, means pose. It comes after Navasana in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. Bhujapidasana is the first really challenging arm balance posture in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series.
This is the nineteenth pose of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series, and the fourteenth seated posture in that series.
When practiced regularly, Bhujapidasana helps build strength in your core, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, inner thighs and back. This posture also helps you build confidence overall. It also helps increase your balance and flexibility in your hip joints. Taking the time to properly master Bhujapidasana will give you the tools you need to approach and master the progressively more challenging arm balances that you’ll learn when you enter 2nd or Intermediate series and beyond.
Bhujapidasana requires balance strength. If the full expression isn’t quite accessible to you from the start, work with our 5 special steps towards mastery of this posture. Be consistent with practicing the modifications for this asana. Soon you’ll begin to develop incredible strength in your wrists, hands, arms, chest, shoulders, and upper back. You’ll also notice improvement in your core strength and greater flexibility in your hips and pelvis. As your stamina, strength and flexibility increases, you will be able to access the full expression of Bujapidasana and stay in the pose longer.
If you did not perform this posture before pregnancy, it is not recommended to start working with the full expression of this asana during pregnancy. However, if you were taking this posture before you became pregnant, you can safely continue practicing this posture, until/if it becomes uncomfortable for you to do.
Bhuja Pidasana is wonderfully fun arm balance. But it can be quite a challenge if you have tightness in your back, hips, or hip flexers. Of, if you have weakness in your core, back, wrists, hands, arms or shoulders. There is a lot to think about in the posture, oppositions of force, lengthening, engaging, extending…All while balancing on your arms, breathing and engaging your bandhas. Let’s take a step by step look at how to do Bhujapidasana.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 4 modifications/variations and the full expression of Bhujapidasana.
Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Bhujapidasana
The Primary Series Sequence is a brilliant flow from posture to posture whereby each practiced asana prepares you for the ones to follow. Navasana is no different, as it’s important to be good and warm when entering the pose. You’ll start to add this posture into your Ashtanga Yoga primary series practice right after you finish Marichyasana D.
- From Down Dog, bend your knees and look forward as you exhale.
- Looking forward, inhale as you press through your hands and jump your legs around your arms. Be sure to squeeze your inner thighs as you land your legs on your arms, to ensure you balance there without your feet dropping to the floor.
- Once you land your legs around your arms, immediately engage your core so you can hold yourself up and balance on your arms.
- From here, exhale and begin bending your elbows to lower your chin towards the floor while pressing your hips up and back.
- Ideally, you want to hover your chin just above the floor, fully balancing on your arms.
- Make sure you’ve mastered the other variations of the pose first (see below).
- Balance here for five deep breaths.
- After your fifth exhale, inhale and press yourself back up and straighten your legs, into Ṭiṭṭibhāsana. It helps to think about engaging your lats, pressing strongly through your hands and squeezing mula bandha. Keep your gaze forward. If you look down you will likely go down!
- From there, exhale and take your legs back to Bakasana by pushing into your hands, pressing your hips up and taking your legs backwards onto your triceps.
- From Bakasana, jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.
While the step by step instructions are for getting into the full expression of Bhuja Pīḍāsana, there are several wonderful variations or modifications you can take to start where you are and safely work towards the full expression of the posture.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on four variations and the full expression of Bhujapidasana.
Never feel ashamed of starting with modifications for yoga postures, especially more challenging ones! It is far safer to work with modifications to build the strength and flexibility necessary to execute postures correctly. If you find you have weakness and/or limited flexibility in your hips, hip flexors, wrists, hands, arms, shoulders or back, you will find not be able to perform the full expression of Bhuja Pīḍāsana.
I teach this arm balance in five (5) special steps! Let’s break them down here for you to start to play with this posture. Be sure to begin with step one and stay there until you’ve mastered that variation. Once you have move onto step two, then three and so on. If you practice these modifications consistently, I absolutely assure you will eventually master this beautiful posture from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series.
From downward-facing dog, slowly walk your feet forward. Bend your knees and try to bring your hands directly behind your feet, palms flat. In the beginning, many students find it impossible to flatten their wrists with their hands behind their feet. If that’s the case for you, press your hips up more towards the ceiling as you continuously press your hands down, working to get your palms flat.
Take five deep breaths here, working to build your stamina, working with gravity, and building your strength. After your fifth breath, slowly stand up and release the pose. Work with this variation for a few days, weeks or even months to build up your stamina, endurance, strength, and flexibility in your hips, shoulders, back, hip flexors, wrists and back.
Once you’re able to take variation one, work with this variation. Your feet are hip distance apart, bring your hands behind you and press your palms flat on the ground. Sit back and rest your hamstrings on your triceps.
Breathe here for five deep breaths while arching your back, keeping your hands pressed into the floor, head and chin lifted, and feet on the floor. After your fifth breathe you may either stand up to get out of the posture, or slowly drop your hips all the way to the floor and then take a vinyasa.
From down dog, walk your feet around your arms, palms flat. Sit down onto your triceps. From there, shift the weight of your body onto your hands and lift your feet off the floor. Really work to flex your feet and hold this position for five breaths.
This variation will teach you how to actively engage your psoas, your core, and teach you more about flexion and extension. Keep your gaze forward and your chin up. If you want to start playing with the exit, from this position begin working to straighten your legs. Take them back so your shins are resting on your triceps. Keep your gaze forward and then jump back into Chaturanga.
Either walk your feet around your hands again or you can choose to jump your feet around your hands from down dog. From there, bend your knees and sit on your triceps. Looking forward, pick your feet up off the ground and flex your feet.
From here, cross your legs over one another and then start to point your feet. Take five deep breaths. At the end of your fifth breath, looking forward, straighten your legs, take them back onto your triceps and then jump back into chaturanga.
Why I love this Pose:
Bhujapidasana was the hardest posture for me to master in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series so I had to work and work and work on this asana for months before I could do it comfortably. I loved the challenge of the pose, the amount of work I had to put into my practice to build up the strength, endurance, flexibility and control necessary to properly execute Bhuja Pīḍāsana.
And once I mastered it I felt like I’d truly earned this posture. Not only that, but the foundation it gave me in arm balancing proved to be so vital when I began learning second and third series arm balances. This singular asana really laid the foundation for me for how to approach difficult postures that followed and I’m so grateful I took the time to master this pose without just rushing on to the following primary series postures.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 4 variations and the full expression of Bhujapidasana.
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