Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) I and II: Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) I and II - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 17, 2023

Eka Pada Koundinyasana, also known as Flying Splits Pose or Sage Kaundinya’s Pose, an advanced pose that combines twisting and balancing of the body at the same time.

Experts believe that the Flying Splits Pose is an effective yoga pose that strengthens the upper body, stimulates the internal organs, and promotes a sense of balance in different age groups along with a good sense of hand balance.

It is a challenging pose, so beginners avoid practicing Sage Kaundinya’s Pose directly. One should always listen to one’s own body and warm-up before the pose practice.

Information

Known as:Eka Pada Koundinyasana, Koundinyasana, Flying Splits Pose, Hurdlers Pose, Twisted One Legged Arm Balance Pose, Sage Kaundinya’s Pose, One Foot Sage Pose, One-Footed Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya
Sanskrit name:एक पद कौण्डिन्यासन
IAST:Ēkā pāda kauṇḍinyāsana
Pronunciation:EY-kuh Pah-duh kown-din-YAHS-ah-nuh
Type:Arm balance, inversion, forward-bend, twisting
Level:Advanced
Total time:30–60 seconds
Focus:Arms, forearms and shoulder, neck, wrist, palms, torso, spine, lower back muscles, core, quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, thighs
Drishti:Down;
Forward
Chakra:Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra
Indications:Respiratory, cardiovascular functions, digestive system, migraine, headache, balance, nervous system
Counterposes:Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Pada Hastasana (Gorilla Pose)
Preparatory poses:Standing Big Toe Hold Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana), Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana), Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)
Follow-up posesDownward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
Contraindications:High blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, spondylitis, hernia; hips, wrist, elbow, or shoulder injuries, women during pregnancy and menstruation cycle

Meaning + Origin

Eka Pada Koundinyasana

The Eka Pada Koundinyasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of four words — Eka + Pada + Koundinya + Asana:

  1. Eka” = “one”
  2. Pada” = “foot or leg”
  3. Koundinya” = “a sage or name of sage”
  4. Asana” = “pose or posture”

Koundinyasana is the first of the two poses, named after the ancient Hindu sage, Koundinya.

Koundinya was a scholar in the royal court of King Suddodhana. The sage mentioned above was a Buddhist monk who predicted the fate of Gautama Buddha at the time of his birth to attain enlightenment. To assume this challenging pose requires a great deal of faith in oneself, as the Sage Koundinya believed in his prophecy. The practice of Eka Pada Koundinyasana, therefore, guides practitioners to enlightenment.

The final pose also resembles a front split hovering over the floor, so it is sometimes called Flying Splits Pose or Twisted One Legged Arm Balance Pose.

This is a twisting pose that sees the yogi balancing his body in the air with his arms on the floor.

Benefits of Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose)

This yoga pose benefits the practitioner in reaching states of higher meditation, where one can gain control over mental and physical stability.

The physical and mental benefits of Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the lower back, core, leg, hamstrings, spinal column1, chest, shoulders, deltoid, trapezius, wrists, elbows, arm muscles (triceps and biceps), and abdominal muscles
    • Burns belly fat
    • Calms the nervous system
    • Reduces the stiffness in the back
    • Activates the digestive organs
    • Improves posture and balance2
    • Improves the respiratory and cardiovascular functions3
    • Helps throw excess waste substances and detoxification
    • Keeping the body fresh, light and healthy
    • Enhances sleep patterns
    • Increases blood circulation
    • Improves the sense of balance4
    • Helps equalize the right and the left side of the body
  2. Mental Benefits:
ALSO READ:  Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose) Steps, Variations and Benefits

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II Practice Guide

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II are one of the challenging poses for many yoga practitioners.

In these poses, your body is lifted towards the upper arm and then your legs are separated in the final position of the pose.

The skills required to practice Eka Pada Koundinyasana can be acquired by practicing Bakasana (Crow’s Pose) and Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose).

Follow the instructions below to practice these Asanas safely. It will help you in the complete practice of the pose.

How To Do Eka Pada Koundinyasana I (Flying Splits Pose)?

Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) I - Sharp Muscle
© image: Instagram/Irene le

Instructions

  • Begin in a squat with your feet together and your hands in prayer. Then turn to your right side and plant your left elbow on the outside of your right knee.
  • Walk a couple of times to get that elbow as far outside that knee as possible. You may find it helpful to hold your right thigh with your right hand. Then place your left hand on the floor. Place your other hand on the floor at shoulder distance away from the first hand (not too close together!).
  • Lift your hips and begin to twist your chest in the direction your fingers are pointing. Start taking a little more weight on your hands. Grab with your fingers, look your hands forward, and maybe lift one foot off the floor.
  • Maintaining a tight lock between the left upper thigh and upper arm (keep your elbows slightly bent) twist your hips up and forward, placing more weight on the right arm. There will come a point when all the weight is transferred from your feet to the hands, at which point the feet will come off the floor, and you’ll balance completely on the arms. This pose is Parsva Bakasana.
  • Take a deep breath here and then try to straighten both the legs (the left leg should be perpendicular to the body and the right leg should be in a straight line with the body). Look directly in front of you.
  • Stay in this posture for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the same process on the other side as well.

Anatomy engaging tips

  • Arms and Shoulders: The arm and shoulder muscles are heavily engaged in this pose to support the weight of the body. The triceps, biceps, and deltoids work together to maintain stability and control as you lift and balance on your arms.
  • Core: The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, are essential in this pose for maintaining balance and control. Engaging your core muscles helps to stabilize your torso and prevent your lower back from collapsing.
  • Legs: The legs play a critical role in this pose, as the standing leg provides a stable base while the lifted leg works to maintain balance. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes all work together to maintain strength and stability in the legs.

Common mistakes

  • Collapsing in the lower back: One common mistake in Flying Splits I is collapsing in the lower back, which can put strain on the lower back and sacroiliac joint. To avoid this, engage your core and keep your spine long and straight throughout the pose.
  • Not engaging the arms: Another mistake is not engaging the arms enough, which can make it difficult to lift the back leg and maintain balance. Make sure to engage the triceps, biceps, and deltoids to support the weight of the body.
  • Not warming up properly: Attempting Flying Splits I without proper preparation can increase the risk of injury. Be sure to warm up your body with standing poses, lunges, and twists before attempting this pose.
ALSO READ:  Shashankasana (Hare Pose): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

How To Do Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (Hurdlers Pose)?

Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) II - Sharp Muscle
© image: Instagram/Irene le

Instructions

  • Begin with Downward Facing Dog Pose. Bring the hands down in front of the mat and walk the feet towards the back of the mat. Wrap the triceps down, press into the hands, and lift your hips up and back.
  • Lift one leg up towards the sky and bend that knee to open the hip.
  • Slowly move forward as you connect the raised thigh to the outside of the triceps.
  • Make a shelf for the raised leg by bending the arms and shift the weight forward into the fingers.
  • Lift the other leg off the floor.
  • To end the pose, extend the bent leg straight out and bring the gaze down or slightly forward.
  • Remain in the final position for 30 to 60 seconds or as long as you are comfortable. In the final pose, you can hold your breath or take very slow, shallow breaths.
  • To release yourself from the pose, lower your left leg and allow it to touch the floor. At the same time, your right leg can be bent and lowered to touch the floor. From here come back to the squat position.
  • Repeat the same process on the other side as well.

Anatomy engaging tips

  • Arms and Shoulders: Like in Flying Splits I, the arm and shoulder muscles are engaged in Flying Splits II to support the weight of the body. The triceps, biceps, and deltoids work together to maintain stability and control as you lift and balance on your arms.
  • Core: The core muscles are also crucial in Flying Splits II, as engaging your core helps to stabilize your torso and prevent your lower back from collapsing.
  • Hips and Glutes: In this pose, the hip and glute muscles are heavily engaged to lift the back leg and maintain balance. The hip abductors and external rotators, including the gluteus medius and piriformis, work together to lift and hold the leg in place.
  • Legs: The legs in Flying Splits II are responsible for maintaining stability and balance, with the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves all working together to maintain strength and stability in the legs.

Common mistakes

  • Collapsing in the lower back: As in Flying Splits I, collapsing in the lower back is a common mistake in Flying Splits II. Engage your core and keep your spine long and straight to avoid this.
  • Not engaging the arms: Not engaging the arms enough can make it difficult to lift the back leg and maintain balance. Make sure to engage the triceps, biceps, and deltoids to support the weight of the body.
  • Not lifting the back leg high enough: Failing to lift the back leg high enough can make it difficult to maintain balance and hold the pose. Focus on engaging the hip and glute muscles to lift the leg as high as possible.
  • Forgetting to breathe: It’s easy to hold your breath or forget to breathe deeply in challenging poses like Flying Splits II. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose to help calm the mind and maintain focus.
Note:
Remember to practice with patience and respect for your body’s limitations. Practicing with proper alignment and awareness can help you avoid common mistakes and reap the benefits of these challenging and rewarding poses.

Modifications

There are several modifications that can be made to Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II to make the poses more accessible, depending on your level of experience and physical ability. Here are some modifications to consider:

  • Using Blocks: Placing blocks underneath the hands can provide support and help to lift the body higher off the ground, making it easier to get the leg into the arm balance.
  • Using a Wall: Practicing Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II with a wall can provide support and help to build confidence in the pose. Start by placing the hands on the wall and gradually work on lifting the back leg into the arm balance.
  • Using a Strap: Using a strap can help to provide support and make it easier to lift the back leg into the arm balance. Start by looping the strap around the foot and pulling the foot towards the body.
  • Practicing on Forearms: If lifting the body off the ground with straight arms is challenging, practice Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II on the forearms instead. This can provide more stability and support in the pose.
  • Practicing Half Lotus: If getting the foot into full lotus position is challenging, practice Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II with the foot in half lotus instead. This can provide a similar stretch while making the pose more accessible.
Note:
Remember to approach modifications with awareness and patience, and listen to your body to avoid overexertion or injury. With practice and persistence, you can gradually work towards the full expression of Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II.

Precautions and contraindications

Practicing Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) comes with several precautions and contraindications, which are explained below:

  • Arm balance requires an understanding of body movement and its limitations, and therefore this yoga pose should not be done when your body is not ready.
  • Since this yoga pose is all about balance, it is best to be done with guidance and help when trying it for the first time, unless one’s knowledge on yoga is vast and structured.
  • If not done with proper care and understanding, injury is high, as the face is close to the floor.
  • Since the weight of the body falls on the wrists and shoulders, the Sage Kaundinya’s Pose should be completely avoided in case of injury.
  • It is not good if suffering in the early stages of carpel tunnel syndrome, as it will get worse.
  • Any injury to the hips, lower back, it is best to avoid the practice of this yoga pose.
  • Individuals with arthritis of the wrists, hands, or shoulders should avoid the practice of this yoga pose.
  • People suffering from high blood pressure should not practice the Eka Pada Koundinyasana. Since the pressure on the chest and heart, when breathing is not in sync, dizziness will take place and blood flow to the brain will be reduced.
  • Any kind of ulcer or injury in the stomach area should be avoided.
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), a person with this disease will find it difficult to hold Flying Splits Pose for a long time, as the pressure around the abdomen is high, and the body strength is low, and hence it is best to avoid.
  • Avoid this yoga pose if suffering from spondylitis, as there will be pressure in keeping the neck in balance.
  • This pose should not be practiced by pregnant and menstruating women, as there is a lot of pressure in your abdomen and abdominal area.
Sources

  1. Int J Yoga Therap (2013) 23 (1): 17–23. DOI: 10.17761/ijyt.23.1.b46687q87m790745. Yoga, Vertebral Fractures, and Osteoporosis: Research and Recommendations. Available: here: https://meridian.allenpress.com/ijyt/article/23/1/17/137853/Yoga-Vertebral-Fractures-and-Osteoporosis-Research[]
  2. Stroke. 2012;43:2402–2407. DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.658211. Poststroke Balance Improves With Yoga. Available here: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.658211[]
  3. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-Dec; 4(2): 49–54. DOI: 10.4103/0973-6131.85485. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/[]
  4. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006. How does our sense of balance work? Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279394/[]

1 thought on “Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose) I and II: Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications”

  1. Avatar for Complete Medical Wellness
    Complete Medical Wellness

    5 stars

    What a fantastic post! This blog is so full of useful information i can’t wait to dig deep and start utilizing the resources you have given me.

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