Eka Pada Koundinyasana II
Eka Pada Koundinyasana II, also known as Albatross Pose, is an arm balancing posture that develops abdominal strength and hamstring flexibility.  The torso contracts strongly on one side as it lengthens on the other.  This wrings out the organs of the abdomen and tones the waistline.  The chest, arms, and wrists are strengthened.  The front hip is flexed and both legs are engaged.

Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) is a good starting point for this pose.  From Utthan Pristhasana, work the shoulder behind the front knee, bend the elbows, and extend the front leg.  The back foot will become light as the weight moves forward over the hands.  More advanced students may enter Eka Pada Koundinyasana II from Visvamitrasana by simply taking both hands to the floor, hugging the inner thigh to the upper arm, and then bending the elbows.

A strong, fully engaged core is more critical to the balance of this posture than arm strength.  Squeeze the inner thigh of the front leg into the same-side upper arm.  Bend the elbows deeply and energetically push through the soles of both feet. Lengthen out through the neck and look forward.  You face will come very close to the floor.  If this causes a fear of smashing your nose on the mat, which is a legitimate concern, turn the gaze to the front foot so the side of the head will touch down if you fall forward.  This will also give you a little more room to see-saw up and down before finding the point of balance.  Use the extended legs as a balance pole, adjusting the lift of the back leg until steadiness is achieved.

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II Sequence:
This sequence opens the hips, stretches the sides, lengthens the hamstrings, and strengthens the abdomen.
  1. Parsva Upavishta Konasana (Side Wide Leg Forward Fold)
  2. Upavishta Konasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold)
  3. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Posture)
  4. Rock-the-Baby
  5. Akarna Dhanurasana  (Archer Pose)
  6. Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)
  7. Eka Pada Bhujapidasana (One-Legged Arm Pressure Pose)
  8. Astavakrasana  (Eight-Angle Pose)
  9. Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (Albatross/Sage Balance II)
10. Jump back to Chatturanga (Low Push-Up)
11. Vinyasa, repeat 1-10 on the opposite side.

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