Sun-Bird Pose

Bird Dog Pose

"The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures, but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships." - T.K.V. Desikachar

Sun-Bird Pose

Introduction to Sun-Bird Pose

Sun-Bird Pose (Bird-Dog Pose)

This very accessible warm-up is excellent to strengthen and stabilize the core and the spinal muscles, as well as to help prepare for balancing yoga poses.

By beginning in a neutral tabletop position, this asana also helps to activate hasta bandha (hand lock) and establish a strong foundation in the hands and arms to prepare for more challenging yoga postures, such as Plank or Chaturanga that may come later in your practice.

By gradually adding elements to challenge balance, this yoga pose allows for different “stopping points.” This will allow you to find a variation that is challenging, but suits you best.

How to Practice Basic Bird Dog Pose

  1. Start in a tabletop position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees.
  2. Spread your fingers wide, with even space between them. Press down firmly into the whole outline of your palms and lightly grip the mat with your fingertips.
  3. Either relax the tops of your feet to the mat or tuck your toes underneath. Choose the option that makes you feel more stable and balanced.
  4. Lengthen your whole spine. Reach the crown of your head toward the top of your mat and stretch your sit bones in the opposite direction.
  5. On an exhalation, activate your core by drawing the muscles around your whole lower abdomen toward your spine.
  6. On an inhalation, reach your right leg straight back behind you to roughly the height of your hip. Activate your leg and reach back through your heel, as if you’re pressing your foot against a wall behind you. Spiral your thigh bone internally, so that your toes point toward the floor. Keep your hips level, with both front hip points facing toward the mat.
  7. Hold for a few breaths before slowly releasing. Repeat on the opposite side.

How To Practice Basic Bird Dog Pose With Alternate Arm Variation

  1. Start in a tabletop position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees.
  2. Spread your fingers wide, with even space between them. Press down firmly into the whole outline of your palms and lightly grip the yoga mat with your fingertips.
  3. Either relax the tops of your feet to the mat or tuck your toes underneath. Choose the option that makes you feel more stable and balanced.
  4. Lengthen your whole spine. Reach the crown of your head toward the top of your yoga mat and stretch your sit bones in the opposite direction.
  5. On an exhalation, activate your core by drawing the muscles around your whole lower abdomen toward your spine.
  6. On an inhalation, raise your right leg straight back behind you to roughly the height of your hip. Activate your leg and reach back through your heel, as if you’re pressing your foot against a wall behind you. Spiral your thigh bone internally, so that your toes point to the floor. Keep your hips level, with both front hip points facing toward the mat.
  7. Shift your weight into your right hand and cup your left hand so just your fingertips touch the floor. Avoid leaning into your right hip. Think of creating a three-pointed stool. Remain here or for more challenge, move on to the next step.
  8. Lift your left hand off the floor and extend your arm forward toward so that your upper arm lines up with the side of your face. 
  9. Stretch forward through your fingertips and back through your toes to counter the oppositional pull of your weight. Create one long line of energy from your fingertips to your toes. 
  10. Hold for a few breaths before slowly releasing. Rest for a few breaths in Child’s Pose, then repeat on the opposite side. 

Practice Tips

Maintain a strong integration of your core to support your spine in this yoga posture, especially as you start to add more load when lifting your leg and arm. Try to maintain a neutral spine, creating length from the crown of your head down to your tailbone. 

Cushion sensitive knees with a folded yoga mat or blanket.

If this pose causes sensitivity in your wrists, you can practice this asana on your forearms. You may also experiment with placing your hands on blocks to relieve some of the pressure on your upper body.

Recommended Use

This yoga posture is great to start a practice to gently awaken the spinal muscles and the core and to establish balance.

It’s perfect to use in your warm-up if you’re planning to work on standing balancing postures or arm balances, as it helps to prepare your musculature for what is coming next. 

It’s also a great full-body warm-up to use in the beginning of any practice to target some of the major joints of the body. And because the movements are linked with breath, it’s also helpful to establish a steady breathing pattern at the beginning of your yoga practice.

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