Pose of the Week: Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Bakasana (pronounced bah-KAHS-uh-nuh), also commonly referred to as Crow Pose or Crane Pose, is a beginning arm balance that serves as an excellent foundation for more advanced arm balances. Crow Pose gets its name from the Sanskrit word “baka,” which means “crane” and the pose is thought to resemble a crane wading in the water. Bakasana strengthens the hands, arms, shoulders, inner thighs and abdominal muscles, while also increasing one’s physical and mental balance.

Here are some other benefits of Crow Pose:

  •  Strengthens the upper arms, forearms and wrists
  • Tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles and the organs of the torso
  • Stretches the upper back and groins
  • Improves full body coordination
  • Builds confidence and self-awareness

While practicing Bakasana has many advantages, it should be avoided if one has recent or chronic injury or inflammation of the wrists or shoulders. Those who have carpal tunnel syndrome should also avoid Crow Pose. Pregnant women should avoid practicing this pose.

Performing Bakasana takes a great deal of strength, so it is often inserted towards the beginning of yoga classes. However, before attempting Crow Pose, take care to make sure the muscles are warmed up.

How to perform Crow Pose:

  1. Begin by standing at the top of the mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with the arms at the sides. Step the feet about mat’s width apart.
  2. Bend the knees and lower the hips- coming into a squat. Separate the thighs so they are slightly wider than the torso, but keep the feet as close together as possible.
  3. Drop the torso slightly forward and bring the upper arms to the inside of the knees. Press the elbows along the inside of the knees and bring the palms together in prayer position. (This posture is known as Garland Pose or Malasana).
  4. Bring the palms to the mat, keeping them about shoulder-distance apart. Spread the fingers and press evenly across both palms and throughout the knuckles.
  5. Press the shins against the back of the upper arms. Draw the knees in as close to the underarms as possible.
  6. Lift onto the balls of the feet while leaning forward. Round the back and draw the abdominal muscles in firmly. Keep the tailbone tucked in toward the heels.
  7. Look at the floor between the hands or at a point even more forward.
  8. While continuing to lean forward, lift the feet off the floor and draw the heels toward the buttocks. Note: If it’s difficult to lift both feet at the same time, try lifting one foot and then the other.
  9. Balance the torso and legs on the back of the upper arms.
  10. Keep pressing evenly across the palms and fingers, while beginning to straighten the elbows. Keep the knees and shins hugging in tightly toward the armpits. Keep the forearms drawn firmly toward the midline of the body.
  11. Touch the big toes together. Draw the belly in while breathing steadily.
  12. Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower the feet to the floor, coming back into Garland Pose.

Beginning students might feel more comfortable doing the pose with a pile of blankets or a pillow in front of them in case they fall forward. While experienced yogis can try jumping back to Chaturanga when releasing from Bakasana instead of returning to Garland Pose.

Click here to learn more!

Sources:
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/arm-balances/pose-week-crow-pose
http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaposes/a/crow.htm
http://life.gaiam.com/video/crow-pose-yoga-tutorial
http://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-crow-pose-in-yoga