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Vrischikasan, or Scorpion Pose, is an advanced yoga pose – in fact, it is often labelled as yoga’s most challenging pose. It requires a great deal core strength, shoulder mobility and lumbar flexibility to perform, as well as a lot of balance and fine-tuned proprioception. It is an inversion that both requires and facilitates an extreme backbend – whilst looking to mimic the shape of a scorpion, it essentially uses the spine and legs as the tail, poised and ready to strike!
If you can manage Scorpion Pose, you will both be demonstrating your skill and improving your strength through various facets of your yoga practice. It will physically strengthen your shoulders, arms, core and back, whilst improving spinal flexibility and opening up your hip flexors and chest muscles. Balance and stability are crucial, too – you will both be relying on them and improving them as you practice Scorpion Pose.
Then there is the mental/emotional side of performing such an advanced posture. Firstly, it is scary to get into – you need great faith in your abilities, you need to keep calm under duress, and you need to maintain even breathing rhythms through great discomfort and constraint. Secondly, it takes a long time to build up to – it will represent the culmination of years of practice, during which time you will have to learn patience and willpower if you are to proceed and stick with it.
It’s realistically quite impractical to attempt to learn it until a yogi has developed these facets of their practice sufficiently. There is a great deal of preparation that goes into learning it, incorporating the skills needed to get into and hold the posture, the balance required, the strength to hold it, the relaxation and peaceful mindset to go through it without panicking, with proper breathwork, and a lot of flexibility.
This is what we’ll be looking at today – how can you build up your flexibility in order to perform Scorpion Pose, in what areas will you need to focus, and what kinds of movements work best?
How To Stretch For Scorpion Pose
The following styles and methods will help you to open out your back, hips and shoulders in preparation for performing Scorpion Pose:
Practicing your backbend ability is crucial for Scorpion Pose – it’s a basic must. The more comfortable you are in your backbend, and the closer you can bring your hands towards your feet in a backbend position, the better prepared you will be for your scorpion. You won’t be successful in your scorpion without first being proficient in this kind of movement.
There are a few ways to practice your ability to backbend. For a basic, good quality backbend practice:
- Begin by laying on the ground with your knees bent and your feet pressed firmly to the ground. With your hands by your ears, push up into your backbend.
- This may be enough for you. If so, practice here. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat it several times per week before advancing.
- For the next stage, if it’s available to you, bring your feet together. Gradually straighten your legs. You’ll find a decent stretch running through your quads, front hip flexors and abs, as well as into your lower back.
- Hold this position for 3-60 seconds. Then bring your feet slightly apart and begin to walk your hands towards your feet. This will increase the arch in your back, bringing it close to what’s needed of it in a Scorpion Pose.
The splits are another challenging style of pose. However, they will be incredibly helpful for those looking to perfect their scorpion. There are a few elements you can add to your front splits that will really help you out:
- Begin in the front splits, or as close to it as you can manage. If you can’t come into the full splits, put a cushion beneath you for support.
- From here, lean backwards towards your rear leg. This will be another backbend variation, in part. This may be enough for the moment.
- However, if you can, bend your back leg at the same time to bring your front foot off the ground. Hold this foot with your opposite arm or hand and place your free hand on the ground for balance. You will find yourself in something similar to a Mermaid pose.
- For an additional spot of balance practice, bend your front leg so that your foot is pointing towards your body.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds before changing sides.
There are proper yoga straps available to buy online. However, any belt, strap, or even the tie for your yoga mat will do and will save you a little money. Whatever you decide to use, you can use it to stretch for your Scorpion Pose whilst maintaining a standing balance posture. To do so:
- Stand on one foot and make a loop with your strap. Hook your other foot through this loop.
- Take hold of the joint ends of the strap and pull your foot and arms over your head, into standing splits.
- From here, walk your hands along the strap, coming gradually as close to the foot as possible.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
Obviously, this is an incredibly advanced stretch. However, so is the scorpion, and you need to bight the bullet at some point.