Take Flight with Bakasana

Bakasana (Crane Pose), often used interchangeably with Kakasana (Crow Pose), is an arm balancing asana in which hands are planted on the floor, shins rest upon upper arms, and feet lift up. The distinction between the two poses is that Bakasana is done with arms straight and Kakasana with arms bent.

Full Bakasana is done with straight arms, knees in the armpits, and the buttocks as high in the air as possible. Kakasana, on the other hand, is a modified version in which the arms stay bent, and the knees come to the outside of the triceps.

Getting into the pose requires a playful, youthful leap of faith, and once a yogi is safely balancing in Bakasana, he will feel a sense of lightness and joy. There are a few pointers on how to take flight with Bakasana:

* The first trick to mastering this balancing pose is to overcome the fear of falling on the face.

* Second, build up and rely on a foundation of strong core muscles, which will help to pull the knees up near the armpits and stay buoyant and light in the pose, taking weight off the wrists. Core strength can be developed through a regular practice of poses that engage the abdominals, such as Plank, Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose), and Navasana (Boat Pose).

* And third, strong shoulders, arms, and hands are also important in this pose, as they support the body weight. Arm and shoulder strength can be built up by practicing Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose) and Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), both of which require the arms to stay up or out for long periods of time, and Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank Pose).

The first prep pose for Bakasana is modified Malasana (Garland Pose), a deep squat that helps to open up all of the gluteal muscles and allows deep flexion, or bending, at the hips. The ability to fully flex the hips is essential, along with core strength, to getting the knees up high on the backs of the arms. Flexible hips, core strength and mindful attention are key to holding the legs in place and staying in Bakasana.

Namaste,
Joan