Flying the black bird- Kakasana

"Kaka" means crow and "Asana" means pose in sanskrit hence the term Kakasana. This a one of the basic arm balances that most beginner students start off trying, and helps to build a foundation for subsequent arm balances or even inversions. I've always loved this pose as it was the first arm balance I conquered in my first yoga class 2 years ago! The focus of this pose is of course firstly the alignment, but also arm strength (chaturanga arms) and balance! Some of the major muscle action would be (head to toe) extension of neck, flexion at the shoulder joint, flexion at the elbow, flexion at the wrist, protraction of scapular, flexion of the thigh at the hips, flexion of the knee and plantar-flexion of the foot. As you can see, there is a lot of flexion hence strength required to prepare for this pose, including your core. Another important factor would be dristi (gaze) as that would differentiate between your ability to balance or falling flat on your face (ouch) Now that we know that muscles to focus on, we need to do some strengthening exercises and different asanas: Downward facing dog (stretch out the back muscles and awakening of your body), 3 legged downward facing dog and bringing knee to chest (slowly putting more pressure into your arms and opening to glutes), High plank (for wrist muscle strengthening), Chaturanga dandasana (for arm strengthening) and Navasana (for hip flexion exercises) Getting into the pose: palms shoulder width apart, elbows tucked in--> bring your butt down and come to a squat, slowly moving more weight into your palms--> bring one leg off and get close to the armpits, keeping the tailbone tucked and engaging the core--> Inhale and bring the other leg to close to your armpits--> Bring your toes together and lift your bum higher--> Hold there for 5 breathes or momentarily (just making sure you're safe)--> exhale and slowly come back down, landing on the balls of your feet. Although it may sound and look like an easy pose to do, some safety precautions would be placing a block in front between palms to prevent falling on your face, coming to baby crow on the forearms if you have wrist problems and resting on your shin rather than knee if you have knee issues. After entering the pose, it is just as important to do a counter pose to stretch out the core and contract all those muscles that have been stretched such as the trunk (back muscles). Some asanas as counterpose could include wheel pose or a gentler pose such as bridge pose or a bow pose to ensure the body is balanced. YTTC 200h May Pat