Bakasana, or Crow Pose is awesome!
Crow pose is an arm balance with a wide variety of health benefits. Crow Pose, which is the variation with bent arms, is considered the stepping stone to Crane Pose, which is the variation with straight arms.
Though it appears to be all about arm strength, the keys are actually learning where your center of gravity is and how to distribute your weight so that you can balance.
The crow pose strengthens the wrists, forearms and abdomen. It improves balance and coordination and core strength; expands the adaptability and flexibility of the spine and opens the groin.
How to do it?
- From Malasana (Yogi Squat), place your palms down on the mat, about a foot in front of your feet. Spread your fingers wide and press into the top joint of each finger.
- Keep your hips and feet close, engage your core, then come up onto the balls of your feet; place your knees on the backs of your upper arms, breathe in and lean forward. Begin to bring your weight forward into your hands, lifting your head as you go.
- Hug your feet toward your butt. Transfer weight evenly through your hands, squeeze your elbows in alignment with your shoulders to lift higher into the pose. Spread the shoulder blades, pull the inner thighs toward each other, and straighten the arms. Breathe out, stabilizing the shoulder muscles, and hold for a few breaths.
- To come out, transfer your weight back until your feet come back to the floor. For a soft landing, defy gravity and keep the core lifting even as you lower your feet back down to the ground.
- Start off with a block under your feet.
- Lift one foot at a time as this helps you get a feel for the technique.
- Find your drishti (yoga speak for gazing point) ok, in laymen’s terms – focus your eyes on one spot, and don’t look down.
- You may want to put a blanket/cushion in front of you for fear of hitting your head if you fall. If you do fall… smile, shake it off and breathe. Begin again.
- Once you come up into the pose, do not let your elbows to splay out to either side. Keep them in line with your shoulders and wrists.
- Try to work on straightening your arms
- Try jumping back to Chaturanga… trust me, it’s so satisfying the first time you’re able to do this! But be honest with these jump backs… bend your arms at 90 degrees and land lightly.
- You can also try moving from crow to tripod headstand and back. Both Andrew and I have accomplished this, but it requires a bit of practice. Be patient!
Here’s a photo of Andrew taken a few months ago in Da Nang, Vietnam. He is progressing really quickly with bakasana and is almost to the point where he can press himself up into a hand stand. Go baby! We promise you a video once he’s mastered this 😉
Remember, Yoga is not about creating the perfect shape but about the satisfying journey on the mat. Crow pose also teaches us and reminds us of the importance of integration in our postures.
Focus on your breath and stay present in poses. You’ll find that you will eventually be able to shift your bodies into alignment just by feeling what’s happening. So instead of looking and asking – ‘am I in alignment?’ See if you can come into alignment by feeling from the inside and not looking on the outside.