Koundinyasana is one of those postures that aims to inspire. It’s name ‘Koundinya’ is derived from a wise sage that lived in ancient times. The word ‘asana’ denotes posture. Sometimes this posture is revolved, using the term ‘parivritta’. It’s an arm balance, where the upper body is in ‘chaturanga’ a half push up, and the weight transfers forward, primarily onto one arm while the legs scissor in the air. Depending on the variation, one must either focus on hip openers or deep twists as a way to safely enter and exit this posture. Both versions require arm strength, hamstring opening, shoulder and side-body stretching. Although this pose looks tough, it is quite delicate in nature - it is the ultimate balance between effort and grace.
The story of Koundinya intricately weaves with the story of the Buddha. Buddha was born as Siddhartha, to a king and queen. Soon after his birth, a handful of sages came to see him to bestow positive premonitions of his success as the future king. The last seer to bestow his visions was Koundinya who agreed that Siddhartha would make a great king but that it wouldn’t be in ruling a kingdom; he would leave a mark on all the world as he leaves the one of material wealth, for one that follows renunciation of worldly possessions and family ties. His legacy would leave a mark for lifetimes to come. The parents were outraged to hear this. They banished Koundinya and immediately began to shelter little Siddhartha from the outside world, hiding any evidence of earthly suffering. When Siddhartha grew up, having realized that the world was made up not only of beauty, youth and gold - but also of old age, sickness, and death - he decided to leave the kingdom in search for the end of all suffering. Koundinyasa became his teacher in strict asceticism. Realizing this was not the way, and that he must discover a middle path - Siddhartha sat to meditate under a Banyan tree and in his deepest meditations, he attained enlightenment. Koundinyasa was the first person to acknowledge him as the ‘Buddha’ or the Enlightened One. The tables turned and Koundinyasa became the student and Buddha, his teacher.