How To Do Birds of Paradise

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chloe Freytag demonstrating Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise is a standing pose that improves balance, strengthens the legs, and stretches the chest and shoulders. Birds of Paradise is an advanced yoga pose that can be learned if taken step by step. Though the process may be challenging, the outcome of this pose is very rewarding. If you are looking for a new balance challenge, you should learn how to do Birds of Paradise.

I’m sure that if you look at our photo this pose seems nearly impossible to you. First of all, be assured that every pose will look different on every person. Many people will achieve a lovely Birds of Paradise pose without having their leg straight up in the air like our model. Slight variations may occur, and yet the benefits can still happen.

Before learning Birds of Paradise you should first learn to master Mountain Pose and Tree Pose. Both of these poses will teach you the necessary balance and focus you will need in order to move on to Birds of Paradise. Once you have learned Mountain Pose and Tree Pose for balance, then practice Extended Angle Pose to work on the flexibility you will need in order to get into Birds of Paradise. These poses combined will help you move into Birds of Paradise eventually. Make sure to keep a focal point for your eyes and continue to breath slowly and calmly. This will help you keep more still and be able to hold your pose steady.

For other tips on how to achieve Birds of Paradise, try the steps and photos listed in Yoga Journal here. And for more thoughts on tackling difficult poses in yoga, read our blog Is Yoga Supposed To Kick Your Butt.

Here are the Steps to learning Birds of Paradise:

1) From a standing position, step your left foot to the back of the mat lowering the inside of the foot down and bending the right knee to a 90 degree angle.

2) Place the right hand on the floor next to your right foot and reach your left hand around your back.

3) Engage abdominals and sneak right arm under the right leg connecting with the left hand behind your back.

4) Keeping hands connected, soften your right knee and slowly raise left leg up in the air, straightening both legs as much as possible.

5)  Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

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