Shoulder Pressing Pose (Bhujapidasana)

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Shoulder-Pressing Pose, Bhujapidasana, (boo-jah-PEED-AH-suh-nuh)

bhuja (shoulder or arm) + pida (pressure) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Bhujapidasana

Pose Type: Balancing, Strengthening

Difficulty: Advanced

  • a man doing shoulder pressing pose from the side
  • a man doing shoulder pressing pose

Mindful and intentional positioning is key to achieving this arm balance.

Shoulder-Pressing Pose Fundamentals

Explore your limits and learn to balance with Shoulder Pressing Pose. 

This arm balance pose will require some dedication and patience, but the physical benefits and the feeling of accomplishment it provides are well worth it. 

Since the Shoulder Pressing Pose doesn’t involve an inversion, which is what often makes arm balances intimidating, it may be a great choice if you’re only beginning to learn to balance. Still, it requires a good level of upper body strength as well as flexibility in the hips and groins. 

While strength plays a role in this balance, proper alignment plays an even more important one. When you position your arms correctly and move into the pose, gravity will do most of the work for you.

The pose is typically included in more advanced Vinyasa yoga sequences, where it acts as a transitional pose. It is also included in the preparatory sequences for Ashtanga yoga. You may also encounter it in Power yoga, as this style focuses on building strength. 

Regardless of your experience with yoga, you should always warm up before you attempt the Shoulder Pressing Pose. Perform core warm-ups such as Boat Pose and Plank Pose, as well as wrist and ankle rotations to reduce the risk of injury.

Simply attempting the pose may help you leave your comfort zone, which heightens your sense of inner power. Don’t go over your limits – respecting and listening to your body is an essential part of your yoga journey. 

Shoulder Pressing Pose & The 8 Limbs

Focus also plays a huge part in this asana, so it’s often viewed as a good posture to work on Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation), the sixth and seventh limbs of yoga.

That’s especially true once you are able to hold the pose for longer periods of time. Longer holds will also bring a greater boost to your physical stability and balance skills. 

Shoulder Pressing Pose & Energetics

On an energetic level, this pose activates the Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra, the seat of your ego and the center which controls and balances your energy.

All poses which work on this center may help you release any subconscious patterns, boost your confidence and willpower, and make you feel more energetic and strong within. 

Shoulder-Pressing Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the arms, wrists, shoulders, and core.
  • Opens and stretches the hips, groins, and lower back.
  • The engagement of the core and slight compression may help stimulate the internal organs of the abdomen and boost your metabolism.
  • The energetic aspect of the pose, as well as the feeling of accomplishment it provides, may boost your confidence and lift your mood. 
  • Nourishes the thyroid gland, which may help balance the heart rate and the nervous system. 
  • Balancing boosts concentration and focus, making this pose a good choice if you want to calm an overactive mind and prepare for meditation.

How To Do Shoulder-Pressing Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Begin Squatting with your knees wide and your feet around shoulder width apart, in Garland Pose.

2. Move your torso forward and raise your hips, so your thighs are close to parallel to the ground.

3. Move the right arm underneath the right thigh, just above the knee point. Go as deep as you can, the thigh will usually meet your arm somewhere around the triceps. 

4. Place the right palm on the floor beside your right foot, palm facing forward and firmly pressing the ground.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the left side. 

6. Still pressing both hands firmly into the floor, begin moving your body backward to shift your weight from the feet to the hands.

7. As you begin to straighten your arms, your feet will naturally begin to lift off the ground. 

8. With your legs lifted, keep squeezing the arms with your thighs.

9. Now cross one ankle over the other. 

10. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths, lower down. Then repeat with the other ankle on top.

an annotated image of a man in shoulder pressing pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • The most important alignment tip in this pose is to keep the palms glued to the ground. That will not only aid you in your lift-off but will also prevent wrist injury. If you’re not able to do so, lift your hands on blocks.
  • Keep your core engaged and your abdominal muscles firm to gain more stability.
  • Press through the shoulders when you’re lifting your legs and squeeze your thighs together. Both these cues will help you feel stronger in the pose. 
  • Keep your spine long and lift your hips as high as possible. 
  • Never force the position – it is not intended for beginners. Have patience, and approach it gradually, respecting your boundaries.
  • Keep your gaze (drishti) at the tip of your nose or at any fixed point on the ground beneath the level of your eyes to aid you to maintain balance and a neutral neck position.
  • Engage your triceps to straighten your elbows and lift your body.

Shoulder-Pressing Pose Variation:

Shoulder Pressing Pose Variation: One Leg Off The Ground

  • a man doing shoulder pressing pose with one foot on the floor from the side
  • a man doing shoulder pressing pose with one foot on the floor

The easiest way to modify this position for beginner practitioners is to take it one leg at a time. 

Simply leave one foot on the mat when you lift off the ground, leaving the other on the floor to aid you with balance. Having a foot on the ground will also take some weight off your hands. Try to follow all other steps just as you would for the full expression of the pose.

Shoulder Pressing Pose Variation: Shoulder Pressing Pose With Blocks

There are multiple ways in which blocks can be tremendously helpful in this pose. If you don’t have blocks nearby, use books or any other firm prop. 

When you are just starting, you can place a block beneath your buttocks. This will help you with balance, and you’ll be able to focus on the proper engagement of muscles and other alignment cues.

Additionally, if you’re not able to flatten the palms firmly on the ground, place a block under each hand. This added height will also make it easier to lift your legs off the ground. 

Shoulder Pressing Pose Variation: Elephant’s Trunk Pose

a man doing elephant's trunk pose

Elephant Trunk Pose is a variation of the Shoulder Pressing Pose.

Depending on your flexibility, it may be easier or more difficult than the standard version of the pose, so it may be best to try both versions and see which option is more accessible to you. 

For Elephant’s Trunk Pose, you will perform all the same steps as in Shoulder Pressing Pose, but you’ll leave one leg extended in front of you, while the other will be wrapped around the forearm.

Since this variation is an asymmetric pose, make sure you perform it on both sides.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Performing Without A Warm-up.

Perform this pose in a later portion of your yoga class, after you’ve already done hip opening poses, as well as core warm-ups and wrist mobility stretches.

Legs Sliding Off Arms.

If your legs are sliding, you may need to wear different clothes or practice with short clothes to allow skin-to-skin contact. Making sure your elbows are bent enough will also prevent your legs from sliding. 

Improper Weight Distribution. 

When you lift your body, make sure you are evenly distributing your weight throughout both hands. Also engage your mula bandha, as that will engage your core and take some weight off your arms.  

Injuries and Conditions

Refrain from practicing Shoulder Pressing Pose if you have a hip, lower back, ankle, knee, shoulder, wrist elbow, or neck injury.

Also avoid it if you’ve recently undergone surgery in these areas, or in your abdomen. It may also be best not to perform the position if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, or similar conditions. 

Related Poses

Easy Pose

Scale Pose

Elephant’s Trunk Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Garland Pose

Plank Pose

Crane Pose

Counter Poses:

Crocodile Pose

Cobra Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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