GRASSHOPPER POSE - PARSVA BHUJA DANDASANA

It’s a twist, a deep hip opener, an arm balance and it looks like a breakdance move from a 90’s video clip.  And because of these reasons, it’s still one of my favourite arm balances.  This should be placed towards the end of a practice after the body is thoroughly warmed up and time has been spent twisting and opening the hips.  If the full expression of the pose seems years off, don’t fret, spend time working on each component, breaking down the elements until it becomes achievable. 

There are a couple of ways that you can move into this pose but personally I like the Dharma sequence of moving from yoga dandasana (with the hip opener) straight into parsva bhuja dandasana.  Note – if you cannot hold chaturanga dandasana this pose will be almost impossible.  Spend the time cultivating a strong, solid chaturanga before attempting this arm balance (or any arm balance really). 

Key alignment points

  • Start in yoga dandasana or a seated twist (sitting upright, knees bent, with the right ankle over the left thigh, twist to the left so that the right sole of the foot makes connection with the upper right arm)
  • You know when you’re ready for the arm balance once the sole of your foot is above your elbow.  Over time work your foot up the arm and eventually to the armpit – this connection creates a shelf for your foot to press down into.
  • If you can keep the connection of the foot above the elbow continue to twist and deepen until both hands find the floor.  Make sure the hands are shoulder width distance apart and start to hug your elbows in (chaturanga style).
  • Take your gaze forward of your hands and start to transfer the weight into the hands, eventually allowing the arms to take all of the weight.
  • Flex the foot of the extended leg!  Super important.  If the leg and foot aren’t energised then you will feel heavy and will start to sink.

Modifications

  • Baby grasshopper pose – Start in a seated position with the left leg extended out in front.  Bend the right knee and place your foot over the left knee. Roll onto your left sit bone and place your hands in a chaturanga position to your left.  Press down through the blade edge of your left foot, transfer the weight into your hands and start to lift your hips off the ground.  Take your weight into your left hand and hold the outside edge of your left foot with your right hand.

Variations

  • Take the extended leg back behind you – this requires an immense amount of strength and control.  Be sure to keep your breath long and deep.
  • If you can extend the leg back behind you start to thread the leg through, bend the knee around the arm – see below (A)!
  • For a massive challenge try leg behind the head.  This may take years to get into and shouldn’t be attempted unless you are confident in your abilities and are warmed up and ready – see below (B)!