The scorpion pose, also known as the vrischikasana is known as one of the most difficult poses in yoga, and for good reason. Only once you have developed enough core strength and enough shoulder mobility to balance all of your weight onto your forearms should you begin to consider practicing this.
However, once mastered correctly, it can aid flexibility to help with further poses, strengthen the upper body and core and help you with your balance. So, let’s find out a little more about this advanced pose, how you go about doing it and what benefits it can bring to you as a committed yogi.
What is the Scorpion Pose?
The scorpion pose is an inversion that involves an intense backbend and hence the name, mimics the position of a scorpion as they get ready to strike. In Sanskrit, Vrishchika means scorpion and before a scorpion wants to sting, it will raise its tail above the back and strike over its head.
Because of the incredible amount of core strength you need to perform this safely, it has been labeled one of the hardest poses existing in yoga and it can take years and years of preparation and practice to build enough skill, muscle, and flexibility to practice this pose effectively. It is sometimes considered a peak pose that culminates with a physical asana.
How to do the Scorpion Pose?
1. To begin the scorpion pose, you need to come to a forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasasa) on your mat. The forearm stand is a balancing inversion and on its own can be an advanced pose. It takes time to be able to kick up your legs and stay in position, yet with practice, the perfect forearm stand can help you on your journey to performing the scorpion.
2. Next, you need to draw your spine into a large curve as you bend your knees in and look forward, lifting your head without compressing the back of your neck, also known as the cervical spine.
3. In the forearm stand, your hips should be over your shoulders. Your hips and your pelvis will need to drop forwards to hover over your head and this should help you transition to the scorpion shape. This should be facilitated as you start to curve and extend your spine.
4. Now you need to turn the focus to your toes and draw your big toes towards each other. As you do this, your knees need to remain separate and wide. Don’t accidentally collapse into a backbend and don’t compress your lumbar. Ensure you are instead focusing on remaining stable and strong, over how flexible you are.
5. If you practice enough, you might eventually be able to draw your toes to touch the crown of your head but as we mentioned, focus on strength before you reach this level of flexibility.
6. To exit the pose, you will need to neutralize your spine and straighten your legs, passing through your forearm stand. You will then need to lower one leg down before the other so that they touch the floor again.
7. Once you are out of the pose, rest for a couple of minutes in Child’s Pose as this can help reverse the intensity of the Scorpion backbend.
The instructions we have provided above will allow you to perform the scorpion in its full form, however, if you are already confident doing a forearm stand against the wall, you can begin to work on the scorpion pose at the wall too.
However, beginners should avoid this pose entirely and a yoga teacher or professional will give you an indication of when you can progress onto more advanced poses.
Modification at the Wall
1.Before you kick up off the ground, move your hands away from the wall, leaving about a foot between you and the wall.
2. Come into a forearm stand with your feet resting on the wall and as your hands are away from the wall, you will be able to form a backbend position down your spine.
3. Now you need to bend your knees and start to walk your feet down the wall towards your head and draw your spine into an extension. In this position, ensure you feel stable and strong and do not experience any pain. If you do, safely exit the position.
Benefits of the Scorpion Pose
Once mastered and you can perform the scorpion pose correctly, you will open up a whole range of benefits. Not only will it significantly strengthen your arms and shoulders as well as your core and back but it will also improve the overall flexibility of your spine and stretch your chest muscles and hip flexors.
You will need to rely on staying balanced and stable and so excellent balancing skills are essential to perfecting this pose. Balance only comes with practice and patience and it is usually many years before a yogi has enough balance to even consider this pose. As it is so challenging, it can be highly energizing for both the physical body and mental state of mind.
If you can hold the forearm stand for a considerable amount of time either against the wall or in the middle of your room and you are able to frequently include backbends in your asana practice, you are ready to attempt the scorpion pose and experience the physical and mental benefits. Other benefits of this pose include:
- It can build stamina and endurance.
- It allows blood to rush to the brain, which can improve memory and concentration over time.
- It can help with hair loss prevention as it stimulates hair follicles in the scalp.
- It can alleviate stress in the spine and shoulders.
- It can reverse the effect of gravity on the body like other inverted asanas.
- It can increase blood flow in the head and brain and nourish the pituitary glands whilst also improving the overall health of the endocrine glands.
- It can alleviate varicose veins and piles.
- It can tone the reproductive organs.
We hope by reading this article you can understand the benefits of the scorpion pose and gain a basic understanding of how to go about getting into the position.
However, as such an advanced pose, we highly recommend only attempting it under the guidance of a teacher and only when that teacher has said it is safe for you to move on to such a challenging position.
The scorpion requires years of practice and built up-skill, but once mastered, you will be able to notice the huge difference in not only core strength but also a significant increase in your flexibility and balance, helping your progress further and further on your yoga journey.