Bird of Paradise
Setup and Key Actions
Begin in baddha parsvakonasana with your left leg forward. You can hold a strap or towel between your hands, clasp the fingers of your left and right hand, or hold your right wrist with your left hand. Make sure that your bind lands around your outer left buttock. If you find yourself feeling restricted in the transition that follows, you might try “backing off” a step—clasping hands instead of clasping your wrist, holding a strap instead of clasping your hands, or taking a bit of a wider grip on your strap.
Step your back (right) foot forward to meet your front (left) foot, so that your right toes are pointing in the same direction as your left toes and your feet are a little wider than hip-width apart. You might find that you can do this in one step, or that you need to take a couple of steps to get there. Either way is fine. Shift your weight into your right foot and lift your left heel up. If this stance feels too wide, lower your left heel down for a moment and wiggle your right foot in slightly.
Keep a strong connection between your left upper arm and left leg, and recruit your core strength. On an inhale, spread the toes of your left foot to lift them away from the floor, and rise to standing. For now, keep your left knee bent. When you reach the top, aim to line up the back of your head with the back of your pelvis, and broaden through your collarbones. Once your balance is steady, you can start to extend your left leg, if you’d like. (Remember: You don’t have to extend it all the way!) See if you can come out of the pose the way you came into it, but in reverse. Rebend your left knee and hinge forward, lowering your left foot to the floor with control. Then step your right foot back into bound side angle, release your bind, and rise up to standing.
Practicing with your back near a wall can provide some extra support, if needed.