Many yoga poses are named after animals and other things in the natural world that they…
They say an elephant never forgets. After reading this guide, you too will hopefully never forget how to do Elephant’s Trunk Pose, a challenging asana that requires arm and core strength as well as hip mobility. Try to include the elephant pose in your daily yoga practice.
Elephant’s Trunk Pose helps improve your strength, stability, coordination, and focus. It’s not a pose that many people can get into on their first try. However, by regularly practicing preparatory poses to strengthen and lengthen various muscle groups, you’ll be able to safely get into this pose by attaining that harmonious balance of stability, flexibility, and grace.
Say it in Sanskrit
In Sanskrit, this asana is called Eka Hasta Bhujasana, which literally translates as “one hand shoulder pose”. In the English language, it’s known by various other names as well, such as One-Legged Insect Pose or Leg Over Shoulder Pose.
When practicing this yoga pose, you shape your legs in a way that resembles the trunk of an elephant. That is also why “Elephant’s Trunk Pose” is one of the most commonly used names for this asana.
Benefits and Contraindications of Eka Hasta Bhujasana
The elephant, one of the largest animals on land, is widely considered to be a gentle giant that is strong and purposeful, yet also beautiful and peaceful.
This yoga pose will help you build the strength of an elephant. More specifically, Elephant’s Trunk Pose will target your wrists, arms, shoulders, and core, while at the same time opening your hips and stabilizing your pelvic girdle.
In this pose, you’ll need to balance and stabilize the upper and lower half of your body. On an energetic level, this asana activates Manipura, or the Solar Plexus Chakra, which is the energy center of action.
Activating this chakra will fire up your entire body and give you the confidence and ability to stick to your principles and make difficult decisions for yourself.
In Eka Hasta Bhujasana, you put a lot of weight on your wrists, so be sure to avoid this pose if you have any wrist or shoulder issues. Also, take it easy if you have any spinal or hip injuries, have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
Some Preparatory Poses
Before adding Elephant’s Trunk Pose into your yoga practice, warm up with these preparatory poses to ensure that you’re building up a balance of both strength and flexibility.
Dandasana aka Staff Pose
Dandasana, or Staff Pose, is the entrance to Eka Hasta Bhujasana. It will provide you with a solid foundation upon which you can build the rest of the pose. In order to keep the shape tight but expanded, keep your spine long, core engaged, and legs pulled into your body.
Malasana aka Garland Pose or Full Yogic Squat
While full squats intimidate many people, this is a great pose for opening up your hips. Use your elbows to push out your knees as far as still comfortable, and as always, make sure to keep your breaths deep and long.
Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana aka Compass Pose
Compass Pose will take full advantage of your open hips. The position of your extended leg will help prepare it for the next step when you place it over your tricep and push into the earth to lift up.
Elephant’s Trunk Yoga Pose Step-by-Step
- Begin in Dhandasana. Bend your right knee and bring it in towards your chest with your foot on the ground, pointing slightly out to your right.
- Thread your right arm underneath your right leg and place both your palms on the ground with your fingers faced forward and spread out wide.
- Tip-toe your right leg up your right arm until you can rest the crease of your knee on your tricep.
- With your right leg bent, hug your arm into your leg and your leg into your arm. Keep your right toes pointed towards the front.
- Engage your core to keep your whole body stable and press firmly into the ground to lift up. Point all ten toes forward.
Stay in this pose for at least three to five deep, long, steady breaths before releasing. Rest in Dhandasana, Sukhasana, or Savasana, and repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Tips for Your Extended Leg
One of the toughest things about this pose is keeping your extended leg lifted off the ground. It helps to think about pulling your leg in towards your body, as if you wanted to pop it into your hip socket.
If the weight of your extended leg is a bit too much to handle, don’t be shy to tuck it in instead. This will shift the weight of your leg towards your center and make it less challenging to lift.
And finally, if lifting is just not an option for you yet, simply place a block underneath your heel, regardless of whether you keep your leg extended or tucked in. This will help you focus on engaging your core and eventually building up the strength that is needed for this pose.
Counterposes to Elephant’s Trunk Pose
After practicing such an intense pose, it’s good to help your body recover with a few counterposes.
Setu Bhandasana aka Bridge Pose
Elephant’s Trunk Yoga Pose is intense for the entire body. Therefore, make sure to follow it up with a pose that releases your core like Setu Bhandasana or another back bending pose. Before coming into a backbend after the Elephant’s Trunk Pose though, make sure to neutralize your spine by resting in Savasana or doing some spinal twists.
Baddha Konasana aka Bound Angle Pose or Butterfly
Release your spine with a forward fold while seated in Butterfly. Completely let yourself go by relaxing your neck and allowing your head to hang.
Supta Virasana aka Recline Hero Pose
While this pose requires open hips to begin with, it will also help you release your hips once you relax into it. To remain comfortable in this pose, place as many pillows as necessary behind you.
Savasana aka Corpse Pose or Final Resting Pose
Always end your yoga asana practice with Savasana, or Corpse Pose. This final resting pose is the most important of all the asanas – especially after a challenging one like Elephant’s Trunk Pose – because it allows you to completely surrender and reap the benefits of your entire yoga practice.
You want to include more than the elephant pose in your yoga practice? Also check my article about other animal yoga poses.