Eka pada sirsasana is the first asana of the second series that requires to take a leg behind the head. One asana with legs behind the head was already part of primary Ashtanga series: supta kurmasana. This post might be interesting for those who work on primary and for those who work on the intermediate series.
First recommendation is for the mind: Be conscious that this is an advanced yoga technique, practice carefully, give yourself some extra love and let the pose grow. These asanas can be a project for years especially for those with shorter limbs. In the meantime I see it as an advantage when I cannot do a pose quickly. It gives me plenty of time to understand the pose and I learn to learn. It strengthens qualities of the mind like patience, handling moods, perseverance. The joy, when after years a pose is doable is much greater for those who struggle for years.
Second recommendation is for the body: Lie on your bed and sofa and try to bring the knees on the mattress or cushions as close as possible to your body. Knees can be bent, this is even good in the beginning, because then the focus is more on opening the hips and not on lengthening the hamstrings.
The next step is to take the arms inside the legs and to stretch the legs. The goal is to bring the knees under the shoulders. The hands can help to push the legs down. So far the pose is safe. The pose only then becomes dangerous if one is not able to bring the upper legs far enough next or even behind the body and when one tries too early to force the leg behind the head. This might cause too much pressure on the knees (just a warning).
There is either behind the head or not behind the head. In the beginning there is pressure on the neck when the leg is behind the head finally. This shows the way. The upper body needs to lengthen with each inhaling, the shoulders move backwards. The leg and feet wander down the back. Slowly!!!!! Ashtangis can bear a bit of discomfort..:)
The mattress makes the pose easier as it is soft. Practice the above position in the evening makes the exercise even easier. Lying on the back helps to relax and this allows to go deeper into a pose.
With each Ashtanga series these leg behind head poses become more important. In primary we've one pose of that kind supta kurmasana. In second series we've 4 poses eka pada sirsasana, dwi pada sirsasana, yoga nidrasana and tittibasana A,B and C.
The picture shows a preparation pose, that really makes it easy to develop this pose. More posts about these asanas are coming........
Whoever looks at that picture, yogi, yogini or non-yogi, I think and feel the same: Ashtanga yoga is a lot of fun.
I enjoy. :)