Poses that do a lot simultaneously are fun, interesting, efficient, and accomplish the goal of turning off the mind and turning on your present-mindedness.
Mind you, poses that don’t do a lot simultaneously may also accomplish the same thing, but that’s not what we’re talking about today. The Swiss-Army Knife pose is so named because it does a lot of things but also because… well, you kind of look like one when you’re in the pose.
1. Get to a lunge position: Left foot forward, right knee of the floor, both hands down on the inside of the left foot, as pictured.
2. Slide your right arm underneath your left leg until your right shoulder is on the floor.
3. Keep your upper body well centered so you don’t roll over onto your back. As you can see from this angle, this is a hip-joint opener, a diagonal stretch between left hip and right shoulder, right shoulder stretch… and kind of a balance position as well, unless you have enough hip joint flexibility that you’re able to place your right shoulder deep underneath you, where balance is no longer an issue.
4. If you absolutely can’t come into the pose without rolling over, or if you just can’t get your shoulder on the floor, take a block and slide it underneath the right shoulder as pictured. It’ll provide you with stability and still allow for the extension. If even that doesn’t keep you from rolling, bring your right elbow (instead of your shoulder) to the floor
5. Stay for 6 slow breaths, and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Fantastic hip joint opener that combines a diagonal, cross-body stretch with balance.
Avoid if: You roll on the floor more than six times and curse up a blue streak. But seriously, if whatever hip you’re emphasizing hurts, or if the shoulder on the floor hurts, then skip this pose altogether. If you have any kind of joint issues (arthritis, for instance), test it — the pose may or may not feel beneficial. As with anything in yoga, you, and not the teacher, are the authority on your body and what feels right and what should be avoided if it pushes your body into pain.
Final thoughts: A spokesman for the Swiss Army has released a statement saying that they do not endorse the Swiss Army Knife pose. So I’m releasing a statement saying that I don’t endorse the Swiss Army. Just the pose.