Astavakrasana is named after the sage, Astavakra. From the Sanskrit root words asta, meaning “eight,” and vakra, meaning “bent,” Astavakra was given this name because it is said that he was born with a crippled body that was bent in eight places after being cursed by his father. Despite his disability, Astavakra ended up being a spiritual teacher to King Janaka. One of the things that Astavakra taught was that the soul is far deeper and more important than what someone looks like on the outside.
Astavakrasana can be a good reminder that the real work of the posture is internal and not about achieving an aesthetically perfect asana. It is said that the full expression of this posture should engage the soul and not the ego. The challenging nature of this posture is a lesson that no one should ever judge the soul by what the body can do.