It is the height of summer: time to show your true colors like a flower – like a Bird of Paradise (Svarga-dvijasana), our yoga pose of the month.

This posture demands that you recruit all of your faculties (concentration, balance, will, Olympic Spirit, shoulder flexibility and abdominal strength) in order to shine out and blossom into the full expression of this delicious yoga posture.

Open hips are a definite for this pose, so make sure you warm up with your favorite hip openers. I’d recommend several sun salutations followed by Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II, Triangle Pose – Trikonasana, Pigeon Pose – Kapotasana, and Bound Extended Side Angle Pose – Badha Utthita Parsvakonasana.

Once you are warm and open, take Tadasana (all good things flow from here). Get length as you inhale in Tadasana, then keeping your length, exhale and fold forward. Take your feet to the width of your mat. Inhale to reach and lengthen your right arm, then exhale, reach your arm through your legs and wrap it around your right upper thigh (hand on hip). Inhale and lengthen your left arm, reach around your back to bind. If you can, clasp your left wrist with your right hand. Breathe here and open your chest.

Now walk your right foot in slightly, concentrate your weight in your left foot. Keep your abs engaged and on an inhale, come up to standing – bringing your right leg with you. Once you’re up, make sure your heart is open and straighten your right leg. Reach your toes wide. Stay with it. Keep breathing. Now take your gaze over your left shoulder.

You should look like this:

Second side.