Posture of the month: Koundinyasana B (Flying Splits)

Continuing on our recent theme of Forearm Balances, next up is Koundinyasana, the Flying Splits.

Koundinyasana is the Sanskrit term for 'Sage Koundinya's Pose' (from Koundinya: the sage's name and asana: posture). It is also know as ‘Flying Splits’, which is quite self explanatory. But who is this sage Koundinya? And why did someone name an asana after him?

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Kaundinya was a brahmin (scholar in ancient India) who live in the 6th century and became known as a young man for his mastery of the Vedas (sacred wisdom scriptures). He was later appointed as a royal court scholar of King Suddhodana of the Sakyas in Kapilavastu.

He is known for predicting that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who had just been born, would eventually become the Buddha. Regardless of scepticism and outright opposition by the king and the royal family, Koundinya vowed that one day, he would become the Buddha’s disciple.

As we know from the Buddha’s story, the young prince (Siddhartha) at the age of 29 decided to leave his life of luxury. Together with Koundinya and a few other monks, he went into the forest to live as an ascetic. They lived together for six years in extreme austerity. Siddhartha's hope was to find enlightenment but eventually decided that this was not the path, so he ventured on and left behind a greatly saddened Koundinya.

Steadfastness, faith and confidence

On his own, the Buddha finally reached enlightenment and came to understand that true happiness is a balance of both extremes, the material and the spiritual, which he called the Middle Way.

The Buddha returned to Koundinya and their forest community to share his new philosophy. After initial scepticism, Koundinya was the first of them to truly grasp the teachings. As he had predicted so many years before, he became one of the Buddha’s first students and taught the philosophy of the Middle Way for the rest of his life.

The story of Koundinya is one of faith and belief. His trust and confidence in Siddhartha remained steadfast even when the Buddha left behind Koundinya’s teachings to find truth elsewhere.

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With this beautiful story in mind, it is easy to see why a pose that’s all about balance and steadfastness is named after this great sage. And of course, it has a bunch of great health benefits, which is why we keep practicing Koundinyasana even centuries later:

Firstly, our abdominal organs get a massage. By triggering their function, the organs get cleansed which - since we have all heard about the importance of gut health in recent years - is fantastic for our health.

Secondly, it has rejuvenating effects for our spine. The pose lengthens and strengthens the spine and releases tensions and aches. With a strong back, your posture improves and that, in return, is important for various health reasons.

Strengthen and tone your core and shoulders. In Koundinyasana, both core and shoulders are strongly engaged, so they get thoroughly conditioned. Just make sure to practice correctly and - in case of doubt - check with your health practitioner that you are in perfect conditions to practice safely.

As stated earlier, the pose massages the abdominal area. Apart from the obvious benefits for your digestion, you will also find that Koundinyasana can help you get rid of stubborn belly fat.

Lastly, Koundinyasana is great for balance, body control and physical awareness which is beneficial both on a physical and on a mental platform.

To learn more, come along and join us for our daily practices at Flex in September, and watch Cam’s tutorial video below:

Henrike Schreer