How to Do Hurdler Pose (Eka Pada Koundinyasana II) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman on yoga mat in hurdler pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Albatross, Flying Splits Pose, Twisted One Legged Arm Balance Pose, Sage Balance II, One Legged Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

Targets: Balance, core, arms, hamstrings

Level: Advanced

The Hurdler Pose (Eka Pada Koundinyasana II) is an advanced arm balance. Your torso is raised parallel to the ground on your hands with bent elbows. Your lower body is twisted with one leg extended to the side and the other straight behind you. You will build strength in your arms and core. This pose can teach you lessons in awareness and balance you will be able to use in even more advanced poses.

Benefits

This pose improves balance and core strength, stretches the hamstrings and groins, and strengthens the arms. Your triceps, biceps, and core muscles are used to hold your body in the arm stand. The glutes, hamstrings, and hip muscles keep the legs extended. This exercise is a hip opener, which is an antidote to sitting for long periods. You must develop awareness and focus to attain this pose. Once you are able to achieve it, you will build your self-confidence.

Step-by-Step Instructions

There are many ways to get into this pose. One of the simplest is from Lizard Pose. In Lizard Pose, you are on all fours balanced in front on the forearms, one leg extended straight behind, and one leg rotated forward with bent knee and your heel near your elbow.

  1. Begin in Lizard with the left leg forward. Lift your elbows off the floor by straightening your arms.
  2. Thread your left arm under your left leg and place your palm flat on the outside of your left foot. Try to get your left knee just over your left shoulder if possible. 
  3. Bend both arms into a Chaturanga position with the upper arms parallel to the floor.
  4. Begin to straighten your left leg, bringing your left thigh onto the shelf created by your upper arm. Lift your left toes from the floor.
  5. Shift your weight forward into your arms so that you can lift the right foot from the floor behind you, engaging your right thigh to keep that leg raised and straight.
  6. Keep the gaze on the floor just in front of you. You don't need to crank your neck up, but also don't let your head drop since its weight can tip you forward.
  7. Try to hold the posture for five breaths.
  8. To come out of the pose, lower the back foot to the ground. Sit back into Child's Pose.
  9. Try the other side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most from this pose and prevent strain or injury.

Collapsing Through Shoulder

Keep your shoulders square, squeezing your shoulder blades together so your breastbone is lifted. Do not allow a shoulder to dip or collapse.

Upper Arm Away From Side

Your upper arms should be practically glued to your sides during this pose. Don't position them outward.

Modifications and Variations

You will need to steadily develop your strength and balance in order to achieve this pose. Once you have accomplished it, you may be able to deepen it.

Need a Modification?

Take some time to get used to the feeling of supporting the front leg on your arm before trying to lift the back leg. If you tuck your right arm under your body so that your elbow comes roughly to your right hip, it will be easier to lift the back leg. If you have been practicing with the right elbow tucked under your body for a while, work on bringing it out so that it hugs your right side instead.

Practice other arm balances like Crow Pose in preparation. Once you have a feeling for your center of gravity in basic arm balances, more advanced ones become accessible. Plank variations will help you strengthen your core and practice bringing your knee to your triceps.

Up for a Challenge?

For a challenge, try jumping back to Chaturanga.

Another way to enter the pose is from a Downward Facing Dog Split. This method gives the pose a bit more forward momentum. It just depends on which you prefer.

  1. Start in down dog split with the left leg lifted. In one motion, swing the left leg forward bringing the knee toward your left triceps as you bend both arms to a chaturanga position. Your left thigh will land on your left upper arm.
  2. Use your momentum to bring the right foot off the floor but you need be in enough control that your head doesn't come down to the floor.
  3. Straighten both legs as much as possible.

Safety and Precautions

This is a pose to avoid if you have any low back pain, sciatica, shoulder injury, or wrist injury or condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It is not recommended if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure. If you feel any pain, ease yourself out of this pose. As you may tip over onto the floor, ensure you have something soft and cushioned positioned under your face rather than a hard surface.

Try It Out

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

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