Bird of paradise pose (Svarga dvijasana in Sanskrit) is an advanced standing balance pose. This isn’t for beginners and is usually taught in more advanced classes. There is a reason. This is a fairly complicated pose that does require balance and flexibility that naturally comes with advanced practice.
This pose is great for improving your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening the legs and abdominal muscles. In addition, bird of paradise opens the hips and stretches the groin muscles, hamstrings and increases flexibility.
To move into bird of paradise pose, start in mountain pose. Bend forward and place the palms on the thighs. Move your feet about shoulder’s width apart, bend the left knee and place the left arm between the lefts.
Move the right arm behind the back. Hold the palms of the hands together behind you. The muscles should be engaged, but not tensed. Breathe throughout the pose and gently move into it at your own pace.
Balance your weight onto the free right leg and move into a standing position. As you move into the standing position, use your arms to lift your left leg. Straighten the lifted leg and look over your shoulder.
Moving out of bird of paradise pose starts with lowering the lifted leg back to the mat and unwinding out of the pose. Move slowly to avoid straining your muscles or joints. Breathe as you move out of bird of paradise pose.
As with all yoga poses, once you have unwound out of the pose, you will repeat all the movements into and out of the pose on the other side of the body. This is done for balance.
When you first attempt bird of paradise pose, remember that this is an advanced level pose. You shouldn’t expect to move into or out of it easily on the first try. It may take a few times before you are able to fully lift the leg and straighten it completely. The key is to breathe, take your time and feel balanced in the pose.