The name comes from the Sanskrit words asta meaning "eight", vakra meaning "bent, curved", and आसन asana meaning "posture" or "seat"; or alternatively from the myth of the sage Astavakra.
Astavakra was the spiritual guru of King Janaka, father of Sita. When he was in his mother's womb, his father Kagola recited the Vedas inaccurately, making the unborn child laugh. Kagola, furious, put a curse on the baby to be born bent in eight places, "Astavakra" meaning eight bends. Kagola was defeated in debate with the court scholar, Vandi. The young Astavakra beating Vandi in argument, and became Janaka's guru. His father blessed him for this, and his deformity vanished.
Astavakrasana is a hand balance with lateral twist. The pose is entered from a squatting position, one arm between the feet, the other just outside the other foot, palms on the floor. Pushing up and lifting both legs from the floor gives a variant or preparatory position, with both legs bent, one leg over one forearm, the other leg crossed over the first at the ankle. Straightening the legs gives the full pose.
This difficult lateral movement tones the spine by supplying the spinal nerves with a copious supply of blood. It increases gastric activity and helps to digest food. The spine is given the maximum lateral twist.
- "Astavakrasana". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
- Iyengar, B. K. S. (1966). light on yoga. HarperCollins. pp. 276–277.
- "Astavakrasana - Eight angled pose". itsafablife.com. 25 July 2013.
- YJ editors (22 April 2008). "Eight-Angle Pose". Yoga Journal.
- Schumacher, John (28 August 2007). "Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose)". Yoga Journal.