Begin in a squat. Balance on the balls of your feet, quads engaged, hands to your heart. Keep the spine long, crown of your head lengthening up towards the sky and shoulders down your back. Now, twist! Begin on the right side, left elbow to the outside edge of the right knee. Feel the twist happening from the center of your spine, your ribs, your core (no need to take it up the cervical spine), keep the neck long, shoulders relaxed and hips squared. A good trick here is to make sure your knees are in line with one another – if the left knee is poking out in front of the right it means your hips are uneven. Draw the crease if the left hip back, and both knees and hips will level out.
From here, gently place the palms of the hands down onto the floor, shoulder-width apart with your fingers spread wide (index pointing forward). Lift your hips up, placing the outer right thigh on top of the left upper arm/elbow. Keep the right elbow squeezing in – think chaturanga with the arms (alternatively place the outer right hip on top of the right elbow – this can be a good way to start while you’re still building strength for the full pose. You can imagine you’re making a little table top here with your elbows and triceps, placing your knee and hip on top). Lean forward, keeping the gaze up and heart reaching ahead and keep shifting your weight onto your arms until your feet lift off the floor. There is no jumping or kicking involved to get here. You are now in Parsva Bakasana (side crow), find your balance, breathe and make sure you don’t crunch up around the neck! Eventually that right arm will float, and we’ll work up towards straight arms. From side crow (bent elbow version), split and extend your legs out to the side moving into Eka Pada I, beginning with the bottom leg first. Activate every single muscle of the legs and keep the chest moving forward – don’t drop your gaze! As we’re just on a short pit stop here, enjoy the pose but begin preparing to lean even more of your weight forward. The trick to getting from Eka Pada I to fallen angel is to slide the right elbow in towards the waist, almost to the lower ribs. Lean forward, keep hugging everything in and use your core strength to slowly slowly lower your temple down towards the floor. We are not going for a face plant here – you actually want to keep next to no weight on your head, all the strength is still coming from the core (in the full pose the cheek barely grazes the mat) as opposed to collapsing your whole body weight down. Make sure the right shoulder stays lifted here! Keeping the right elbow to your waist, start to extend the left leg straight up towards the sky above. With the outer right thigh still balancing on the elbow, angle the right foot up towards the left leg, keeping the right knee bent. Both feet are now pointing up towards the sky, so spread those toes, relax your face… And smile. Breathe here, lower your weight back onto the arms and either come out vinyasa style through chaturanga or gently make your way into child’s pose. Now do the other side :)
Fallen Angel 101 via Rachel Brathen Yoga