Couch pose. Ha. Those ancient yogis sure did have a sense of humor. Instead of naming whatever position most closely resembled a body comfortably sprawled out on squishy-soft pillows munching on popcorn “Couch pose,” they instead bestowed the “Couch” title to the pose where you balance upside-down on both elbows only. But embracing that little bit of humor will take you a long, long way in this adventure, I promise you.
I remember seeing the half variation of this asana a few years ago when an issue of Yoga Journal magazine arrived in my mailbox. Forever stamped in print as hard evidence that this shape was indeed humanly possible, a yoga teacher I greatly admire named Kathryn Budig floated gracefully on one forearm and one elbow in Ardha Sayanasana, the Half Couch pose, and she even had enough energy left to don a pretty smile. “HA!” I thought. I remember it so, so clearly. “I will never be able to do that.” And my brain simply accepted that thought, believing it and filing it away in the “Truth” folder. Over the years as my practice and understanding continued to develop (work still very, very much in progress) suddenly this didn’t seem so far away anymore. Skills were more established, understanding more deeply rooted, but one ingredient was still in creation: belief.
Belief is not a muscle, but it is something that you can strengthen through conscious practice. While popping my second palm to my cheek is only a two second adventure, I’m amazed to share that through concentrated focus and internal encouragement to keep believing (and keep a sense of humor), Ardha Sayanasana is in fact something that I can do. I share this with you because, if you let it be, your asana practice can be deeply nourishing to your belief muscles as well as all those other important anatomical ones. Learn the actions of what you aspire to, understand the skills, believe deeply and nothing is impossible. Nothing.
-Be proficient in Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand / Feather of the Peacock pose) away from the wall before attempting this.
-As an option, set up your forearm stand about 6 inches away from the wall to learn this transition with your feet supported on the wall.
-Squeeze your legs together like they’re glued. Spread your toes. Draw your ribs in to turn on your core muscles. Energy in your feet, legs and core is essential to creating this balance.
-Look forward past your fingertips and soften your chest down and forward to create a backbend. Let your legs move slightly over your head like a straight-leg scorpion variation.
-Press your upper arm bones away from what you’re looking at so your shoulders, neck and upper back stay broad and open.
-Slightly lift and then turn onto the pinky edge of your right forearm, R palm facing L arm. Press down and establish firm balance. Staying aware of your legs, press left forearm more firmly down and slowly draw your right palm to your right cheek for Ardha Sayanasana, the Half Couch pose.
-Breathe and believe!
Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.