Bakasana (Crane Pose)
Bakasana (Crane Pose) is considered to be one the most important of all arm balances and understanding how to do the Crane Pose lays the foundation for most of the other arm balances. All balancing Yoga poses are rather complex and reveal the strength and flexibility that carry yoga beginners through many of the poses that mature Yoga practitioners have learned to cultivate over years of practice. Most practitioners who fail at Crane Pose have not spread their weight out properly.
The commonest mistake people make is raising their hips too high, so that their poses are almost vertical, like diving cranes. Many others manage to get their feet off the floor; but then their pose gets too very heavy on their arms. Bakasana, done the right way, avoids the weight shift so vital to understanding this yoga pose and evolving into other arm balances.
How to do the Crane Pose
1. To start, sit down on your heels, keeping your inner feet just a few inches apart. If you are unable to keep your heels on the mat, feel free to support them on a thickly folded Yoga blanket. Part your knees slightly wider than your hips then lean your upper body forward and between your inner thighs.
2. Stretch your arms forward and bend both elbows. Now, place your palms flat on the floor, your forearms perpendicular to the floor and the backs of your upper arms against your shins.
3. Rise up on the balls of your feet then lean forward a little more and take the weight of your body onto the backs of your upper arms. In the Crane Pose you make a conscious attempt to tighten your front torso and completely arch your back. You will help yourself even more, if you to pull your heels as close to your tailbone, as possible.
4. With a deep exhalation, bend even more forward onto the back of your upper arms. Go up to the point where the balls of your feet heave off the mat. Now your legs and body will be balancing above your upper elbows. Newcomers to the pose might want to stop here, securely perched on their bent arms.
5. However, if you are ready to go further, squeeze both legs against your arms, press your inner hands firmly into the mat and, inhaling deeply, straighten both elbows. Seen from the side your arms will be angled slightly forward, relative to the floor. Your inner knees should stick to your outer arms, high up near your armpits. Keep your head in a neutral position and gaze, calmly, at the floor. Alternately, you may slightly raise your head, without squeezing the back of your neck, and gaze forward.
6. Hold the pose for 30 – 60 seconds. To exit the pose, with a deep inhalation, slowly drop your feet to the mat and go back into a squat.
Benefits of Crane Pose
- Stretches and strengthens the upper back, arms, wrists and abdominal muscles
- Opens up the groins
- Tones up the abdominal organs
- Carpal tunnel syndrome