How to Do Bird of Paradise (Svarga Dvijasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise. © Ann Pizer

Also Known As: Svarga Dvidasana

Targets: Leg strength, balance

Level: Intermediate

Bird of Paradise Pose (Svarga Dvijasana) looks challenging. There is a lot going on in this pose with the bind, standing on one leg, and the hamstring stretch. It starts to make a lot more sense when you break it down step by step. You must be able to do a Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana) before you can tackle Bird of Paradise. If you can manage the bind with a strap, an open chest, and a smile, feel free to go ahead and try to take on the transition to standing in Svarga Dvijasana incorporating your strap. But if you're still working on the bind, don't be in a rush to move on. This pose will still be here when you're ready for it. 

Benefits

This pose strengthens the legs and core. It stretches the arms and opens the hips and hamstrings. It also improves balance. It's not a position you will often find yourself in daily life, but you will be more ready to meet any balance challenges that come your way. Traditionally, it is said to open the sacral chakra and the root chakra.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin in Bound Extended Side Angle Pose.

  1. Turn your head so that your gaze comes to your front foot.
  2. Step your back foot forward so that your feet are parallel to the front of your mat. Keep the bind while you do this. It's OK if it takes you a few steps to get the back foot forward. Now you're in a forward bend with your arms wrapped around one leg. Keep both knees slightly bent.
  3. Transfer your weight to your free leg (the unbound one). Stand firmly on that foot.
  4. Lift your other foot off the ground. Slowly bring yourself up to standing, keeping the bind and therefore lifting the bound leg up with you.
  5. When you feel steady in a standing position, begin to straighten the bound leg any amount. Bring your gaze over your opposite shoulder, away from your outstretched leg.
  6. To come out, rebend the bound leg and slowly lower that foot to the floor. Keep the bind as you step your free leg to the back of the mat, reversing the process you used to come into the pose. You'll end up back in Bound Side Angle Pose.
  7. Release the bind and repeat on the other side.

    Common Mistakes

    Avoid these errors to get the most from this pose and avoid injuries.

    Attempting It Too Soon

    As an intermediate pose, you must be familiar with basic poses and especially those that lead up to this pose before you attempt it.

    Hunching Shoulders

    Your shoulders should be pulled back, never hunched.

    Modifications and Variations

    This pose can be done in different ways to make it more accessible or to deepen the pose.

    Need a Modification?

    Stop whenever you find yourself needing to release the bind. You can use a strap instead of binding with your hands if you want to continue. Be patient. Practice near a wall at first to prevent a fall.

    You can probably tell that this pose takes a lot of core strength. If you've got the bind but the balance is very challenging for you, add some yoga-inspired crunches to your routine. 

    Up for a Challenge?

    Straightening your lifted leg is the final flourish but is wholly dependent on your hip and hamstring flexibility. This will improve over time so don't force anything.

    Safety and Precautions

    Avoid this pose if you have any injury to your legs, knees, hips, back, or shoulder. As a balancing pose, it should be avoided during pregnancy and by those who have high blood pressure. If you experience any pain in your inner thigh or upper arm, it is possible you have tweaked a muscle or nerve. Release the pose.

    Try It Out

    Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

    Was this page helpful?