How to Do Sage Kaundinya's Pose (Eka Pada Koundinyasana I) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

woman performing Sage Kaundinya's Pose (Eka Pada Koundinyasana I) in Yoga

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Also Known As: EPK I, Twisted One Legged Arm Balance Pose I

Targets: Arms, core, legs, hips

Equipment Needed: Yoga mat and towel

Level: Advanced

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I is an arm-balancing pose dedicated to Sage Kaundinya, a Buddhist monk who lived in India during the 6th century BCE. It is an advanced asana that can be incorporated into arm-balanced sequences.

This is a yoga pose that targets the full body. The arms carry the weight of the body as the core is engaged to keep the balance. This helps strengthen the biceps, triceps, shoulders, abs, and hamstrings as these muscles work together to maintain balance and lengthen the body.

Eka Pada Koundinyasana directly translates to “one foot sage pose.” This is because one leg is stretched across the body while the other is back.

Since it is an advanced pose, it may fit more naturally in the middle of or toward the end of your sequence. Crow Pose (Bakasana) is a good place to start to warm up the arms. You may also want to warm up the hips with hip-opening poses since the body will be twisted.

No special equipment is needed to perform Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, though beginners might benefit from using yoga blocks for balance.

Benefits

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I requires the strength of the upper body, balance of the core, flexibility of the hips, and stability of the legs. It is a pose that requires balance and control of the entire body. 

This is a great pose for anyone who wants to improve their balancing skills. The entire body comes together to achieve balance supported by the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. 

This pose is also beneficial for those with tight hips and hamstrings. However, if you have tightness in these areas, you should start with poses that open them. When moving into Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, this pose will help you achieve greater flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.

Since the core is twisted, this pose also helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles. A tight core will improve your form when doing other yoga poses as well as other types of exercises.

If you’re looking for stronger arms, try to master this pose. Having a strong upper body will come in handy for many daily activities from carrying groceries to lifting heavy objects.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Before entering into Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, make sure you have plenty of space for your legs to move freely. You should be able to stretch out comfortably.

You do not need any special equipment, though a yoga towel and yoga mat are recommended. Beginners may require extra equipment, such as yoga blocks, to modify the move. With enough practice, you will not need any equipment at all.

Since Sage Kaundinya’s Pose is an advanced pose, it is not recommended to start with this pose. Even if you are at an advanced level in your yoga practice, this pose requires flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and core. Before entering into this pose, warm up with poses that open the hips, hamstrings, and core. You should also warm up your arms and shoulders since they will be targeted in this pose.

When you are warmed up, follow these steps to enter into Eka Pada Koundinyasana I:

  1. Face the side of your mat and enter into a squatting position. Lean forward and place your palms flat on the yoga mat in front of you. Be on the balls of your feet with your knees pressed together.
  2. Pivot your feet so your knees are facing the left side of your mat. Slowly begin to lean forward while keeping your head up. Do not strain your neck.
  3. Bend your arms toward a 90-degree angle and pin your elbows inward. Press your palms firmly into the yoga mat to create shelves made with your upper arms. This is shown in Chaturanga Dandasana.
  4. Lift your hips and place the side of your right knee onto the arm shelf created by your left arm. Enter into Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana).
  5. Shift your weight forward to your upper body. Your feet should feel light. This will allow you to extend your legs back.
  6. Exhale and extend your top leg straight back. Extend your bottom leg straight out. Keep the feet flexed while extending out through the heels. Do not point your toes.
  7. Keep your gaze ahead of you but do not look up as this can strain the neck. 
  8. To release the pose, lower your legs and lean back to release the pressure put on the arms.
  9. Try the other side.

Common Mistakes

Since this is an advanced pose, it is unlikely that you will master it in your first try. To make your first attempt more successful, avoid these common mistakes.

Failing to Warm Up

This is not a pose with which to start your sequence. Before entering this pose, have a firm understanding of how to perform Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana). Perform other poses first that open up the hips, abs, and hamstrings while warming up the arms and shoulders.

Elbows Not Pinned to Sides

Your arms should be in a distinct position during this pose. They should be at a 90-degree angle to your yoga mat. Most importantly, your elbows should be pinned to your sides. This creates a stable support for your lower body to rest on.

Neck Strain

Many yoga poses require you to look straight ahead. In this pose, that would cause strain to the neck. It is more comfortable to look down or slightly forward at the ground in front of you.

Modifications and Variations

Depending on your proficiency level, you may need something a little easier or more advanced. Here’s what to try next if Sage Kaundinya's Pose is not the right difficulty level.

Need a Modification?

To make this pose easier, grab some yoga blocks. Place them underneath you to help you balance. This will help you learn where to place your arms and legs in the pose without having to balance. Once you’ve learned where everything should be, you can safely try the pose without the yoga blocks.

Up for a Challenge?

Hurdler Pose (Eka Pada Koundinyasana II) is a similar pose since it also requires balancing of the arms. This is another arm-balancing pose to try once you’ve mastered Eka Pada Koundinyasana I.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have pain in the hips, shoulders, or wrists. Since the core is stretched and twisted, pregnant women should check with their doctor before performing this pose. To reduce the risk of injury, it is recommended to stretch and warm up. If you feel any pain during this pose, slowly back out of the pose.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into this popular workout

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