How to Do Elephant's Trunk Pose (Eka Hasta Bhujasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Elephant Trunk Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: One-Leg-Over-Arm Pose

Targets: Arms, abdominals

Level: Advanced

The Elephant's Trunk Pose is an advanced arm balance. One leg is outstretched while the other is wrapped over your upper arm as you balance on both hands. This pose builds strength, flexibility, and balance. It is most likely to be found in an advanced yoga class. Prepare for it by following the first steps, which build toward the final pose.

Benefits

This pose strengthens the arms, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. It stretches the hips and groin. Your balance and coordination will be used and honed. This can help you move with more agility in daily life and perform tasks requiring pushing.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin sitting in a comfortable, cross-legged position, such as sukhasana (easy pose), with the spine long and the shoulders stacked over the hips. Take several breaths here.
  2. Lift your right shin off the floor with your hands. Cradle the lower leg in your arms, keeping the shin roughly parallel with the floor. You can do this by placing your right knee in the crook of your right elbow and your right foot in the crook of your left elbow, if possible. As an alternative, hold the right knee with your right hand and the left knee with your left hand or slide both arms under your calf and support the lower leg that way. Whichever configuration you choose, flex the right foot and try to keep your back sitting up straight and tall. Avoid rounding the spine forward or leaning too far backward.
  3. Rock the cradled right leg gently back and forth in the hip socket to loosen up your hip.
  4. After spending a few breaths moving your leg, come back to center. Release the right arm from the right knee.
  5. Thread your right arm under your right knee, placing your right hand on the ground just outside the right buttock. Keep the right arm bent at the elbow and the back of your right knee resting on your upper arm.
  6. You can use your left hand on the right foot to work the right calf as close as possible to your right shoulder. The back of your right thigh will be on the back of your right upper arm. The higher up you can get your calf on your arm, the smoother the rest of the pose will be.
  7. Straighten and extend your left leg on the floor in front of you, as in a half Staff Pose (Dandasana).
  8. Release the left arm and place your left hand on the floor outside the left thigh. Your two hands should in roughly the same position in relationship to their corresponding hips.
  9. Inhale deeply and engage your core and both legs, making sure to flex both feet. On an exhalation, press into both palms and lift your butt and left leg off the floor. The palms of your hands are the only remaining points of contact with the ground.
  10. Stay up for several breaths. Keeping the muscles of the left leg hugging to the bone and the left foot strongly flexed will make it easier to keep that leg lifted off the floor.
  11. Release your butt to the ground on an exhalation.
  12. Return to Easy Pose and take at least five breaths before trying the other side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors so you can get the most out of this pose and avoid strain.

Differences in Flexibility

Since the pose is dependent on your hip and groin flexibility in getting your leg high up on your arm, you will probably find that one side is easier than the other. Try to notice this difference but not make judgments based on it.

Pressure on Hands

The pressure should be symmetrical on all four sides of your palms in order to protect your wrists.

Modifications and Variations

As with most advanced yoga poses, there are steps you can take you prepare for it. As well. you can take what you learn in this pose and deepen it or progress to other poses.

Need a Modification?

If you are a beginner, this pose may seem impossible. But if you encounter it in a mixed-level class, for instance, it is helpful to follow along as each step builds the flexibility and strength you need for the eventual final posture. Doing the first three steps listed here would be very appropriate for a beginner and will do a lot to open the hips. As you progress, attempting to lift up will increase your core strength.

Once you are ready, you can use blocks under your hands to give yourself more elevation.

Up for a Challenge?

After holding this pose for several breaths, transition into Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana) or Eka Pada Koundinyasana II.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have any injury to the shoulder, wrist, or hip. Stop the pose if you feel any sharp pain.

Try It Out

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

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