Elephant’s trunk pose is an interesting arm balancing pose found in yoga. It’s not seen in many yoga flows because it’s mostly used as a preparatory pose for a more difficult arm balance known as eight angle pose. Elephant trunk pose is the beginning stages of getting into eight angle pose.
Elephant trunk pose is an interestingly shaped pose and requires not only arm strength but also hip flexibility to get into it. It’s named elephant trunk pose because of the shape of the pose. The one leg lifting up looks like an elephant’s trunk sticking out. This pose has also been known to be called one leg over arm pose.
The basics of elephant trunk pose
Elephant’s trunk pose is known as Eka Hasta Bhujasana in Sanskrit, which translates to one hand trunk pose. This pose targets the wrists, arms, hips, and hamstrings. The hips and hamstrings especially need to be warmed up to be able to get into this pose without any struggle.
Although elephant trunk pose requires quite a bit of flexibility to get into, it’s not one of the hardest arm balances. As far as arm balances go, it’s relatively easy. It’s still an arm balance though, which requires some arm strength. This makes it an advanced level pose, especially since the pose that usually follows it is extremely difficult.
The benefits of practicing elephant trunk pose
There are many benefits to practicing elephant trunk pose, which includes strengthening the arms and wrists. The wrist goes into a lot of extension in arm balances and therefore needs to be properly warmed up beforehand. Continuous practice of arm balances strengthens the wrist. The arms are also strengthened over time, which is useful for building strength for harder arm balances and inversions.
Elephant trunk pose opens the hips and stretches the hamstrings. This helps to improve the flexibility of the hips and hamstrings. It also engages and strengthens the core muscles. This pose incites confidence in those who practice it. This confidence then helps a person to try and practice other arm balances and get better at them.
How to do elephant trunk pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in Dandasana, a staff pose. Be seated with the legs out straight in front of you and flex the feet upwards.
- Start by bringing one leg in, use the right one first, and bend the knee. Use both hands to bend the knee enough for the leg to hook over the shoulder. Get the leg as high up over the shoulder as is possible.
- The under crease of the knee should be over the shoulder and once that’s done take the right hand and place it flat on the mat slightly in front of the right hip.
- Place the left hand down in line with the right hand and grip into the fingers. Flex the core muscles and shift the gaze forward.
- Begin to engage the thighs and the core. Take an inhale in and on the exhale push into the hands to lift the legs off the floor. Keep the left leg straight the whole time and try to keep the right leg as high up on the arm as possible.
- The back can round slightly to help hold the pose. Keep the right leg squeezing into the right arm.
- Hold for a few breaths remembering to breathe deeply before gently releasing and going to the other side.
Common mistakes made when doing the pose
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying elephant’s trunk pose is that they try to push their leg far back to get over the shoulder. There is no need to push into the pose, especially if the leg doesn’t naturally go there. The leg can be placed anywhere on the arm, as long as it’s as high up as it can go. The pose still works with the leg a bit lower down.
Another thing that people forget to do in this pose is to engage areas like the thighs, core, and even the fingers. Engaging these areas and gripping into the fingertips will help the body to lift off easier. It’s a stronger pose when these areas are engaged and used efficiently.
For those who are trying elephant’s trunk pose for the first time, try practicing the shape of the pose first. The shape can be done lying down and seated without pushing into the hands. Do light drills of attempting to pick the body up and put it back down to build strength for the pose.
Practicing and accomplishing other arm balances like crow first would also help to understand the basics of arm balances. It’s a lot easier to get other arm balances once the easier ones are done first. Beginners should also work on their hip and hamstring flexibility a lot before trying the pose out.
If anyone is injured in their leg, knee, hip, hamstring, arm, or wrist then they shouldn’t be doing elephant trunk pose. If they are experiencing pain in these areas, then they should also avoid the pose and try something gentler. Listen to your body and if there is ever any pain then slowly back off from the pose. Never push past pain. Consult a doctor or physician before trying any yoga pose out or going into any sort of physical exercise.
Variations of elephant trunk pose
The harder and more advanced version of this pose is eight angle pose. For this pose, you go from elephant trunk pose and bind the feet together before rocking forward so that the legs go to the side. This pose takes a lot of strength and balance. It’s also one of the scarier arm balances as a person has to almost shoot themselves forward to get into it. Easier arm balances to try would be crow pose and side crow. These would help to build the foundations of elephant trunk pose and any other arm balance.