Eight-Angle Pose | Yoga with Bianca
When I first tried yoga, the instructor cued us through chaturanga (tricep pushup) and I couldn’t hold my elbows next to my sides. I kinda laughed inside because my arms were so weak. I continued to show up on my mat and I would take chaturangas on my knees. After months of taking classes, my body finally understood how to do a chaturanga. Over time, I was able to improve my form in this foundational pose and this unlocked my access to most of the yoga arm balances, including eight-angle pose. In this post, I will show you how to get into eight-angle pose in a safe and accessible way.
Just to preface this tutorial, everyone’s body structure is different. Our muscles, joints, and bones are built differently and any injuries will also change the dynamic. If you have hip, wrist or shoulder injuries, I would avoid arm balances for now until your body is ready.
With any yoga pose you are attempting, you can use the following template to break down the pose:
Breaking Down Eight-Angle Pose – SOUL
Core, arms, wrists
Inner thighs, outer hips
U- Understand Muscle Action
Extension of hamstring muscles and core stabilization
To prepare for this pose, I recommend flowing through sun salutations, hip-opening poses and core strengthening poses. Once you have flowed through the recommended poses at the links here, your body will be ready to try eight-angle pose.
Forward Fold Variation
Eight-angle pose requires open hamstrings. Check out my splits tutorial here for more hamstring stretches. I like this variation of forward fold because it also stretches your IT band. In this variation, your ankles are crossed which mirrors how your ankles are positioned in eight-angle pose. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
Firelog pose is a deep hip opener. Place your ankle on top of the opposite knee and work your shin parallel. Flex your feet to protect your knee joints. Ground your sitting bones to the mat and balance your weight evenly on both hips. If you find that there’s a space between your top thigh and your bottom ankle, you can place a block underneath for more support. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
Cradle your Leg
Next, take your top leg and cradle your shin with your arms. You can extend your other leg or keep it bent for now. Try getting your shin parallel to the floor. Place the sole of your foot on the inside of your elbow. Move side to side and take deep breaths as you do so.
Elephant Trunk Pose
Elephant trunk pose is a fun arm balance that builds lower core and wrist strength. Take the leg that you cradled and place your leg above your shoulder. Getting your leg above your shoulder requires open inner thighs as well as outer hips. My favorite inner thigh stretches are horse pose, frog pose and prone frog pose.
Side story: one time I was teaching class and I cued through 4 poses in a row and laughed out loud because I realized all 4 poses were named after animals!
Try to get your leg as high as you can on your shoulder. Support your calf with your hand. Then plant your hands down on the mat next to your hips. Extend your bottom leg out long. Make sure your fingers face forward and your wrists are in the same line. Press your top leg firmly into your arm while you press out from your hands. Engage your lower core while you press through your hands.
Layer one, lift your seat off the mat but keep your front heel planted. At first you may need to sit back down after a few seconds. Try getting up three times and keep your breath steady. Layer two, after you lift your seat, lift your heel off the floor and point your toes. Try to hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths.
The key to this pose is the leg pressure on your arm and really pulling your core up and in. From here, we build on elephant trunk pose.
There are a few ways to get into eight-angle pose. This tutorial will show you how to get into eight-angle from elephant trunk pose. While you are in elephant trunk pose, lift the heel of your extended leg and hook your ankle on top of your other ankle. See this in action at the video below.
Once you hook your ankles, bend your elbows back like chaturanga and press both inner thighs firmly into your arm. Pin your elbows next to your ribs and extend your hamstrings out. While you bend your elbows back, you also lift your hips up. Try to keep your shoulders level. I’ve included photos that show you the front and side views of this pose.
The key here is to squeeze your inner thighs as much as you can. This will help you balance. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths. For more advanced yogis, try transitioning from eight-angle pose to hurdler’s pose.
Bringing it all Together- Yoga Flow
Here’s a video that brings these poses together. Remember to breathe and have fun with it! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and please feel free to comment below with feedback, questions or requests.