Yes, you will strengthen your wrists, arms, chest, back and abdominals. Yes, you will increase the strength and flexibility of the groin but the real lesson of this pose is trust. To fly in bakasana – crow pose – you must first shine the light of awareness on to the mental chatter that accompanies your attempts at lifting up…and shift it.
Does your self talk support or undermine your journey into bakasana? Lifting those feet and holding the body high first requires the belief that you can do it. That fear of falling, those self-limiting beliefs are often our biggest obstacles to lift off. Learn to work through them and you’ll find that this pose will not only build your strength but your confidence too.
In any case, you should think of the inevitable face plant as a right of passage! Most bakasana aficionados have fallen at least once and, truly, the floor is not that far away. Not convinced? No problem. Grab a block or pillow and place it on the floor in front of you. If you do end up slipping it will soften your landing.
Now, down to business!
How to do Crow Pose, Bakasana:
There are two ways of getting into bakasana.
The first is from a squatting position with your knees wider than your shoulders and your hands on the floor in front of you. I find this set up a little bit tricky because the transfer of weight required to get you up and over your hands is quite a big one.
The second option is to approach the pose from a standing forward fold like uttanasana. Once in uttanasana, bend the knees, lift on to your tippy toes and plant your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart and about 30cm in front of the feet.
Now bring your attention to your hands; they’re your base so they should be nice and strong because a strong pose requires a strong foundation. Spread the fingertips wide, grip your mat and (without moving the hands) squeeze the heels of the palms in towards each other to ensure that your biceps and your triceps are engaged.
Bend your elbows slightly and nestle your knees as close into your armpits as they’ll go. Hug everything into the centre line of your body – your inside thighs, your arms and your core muscles – and remember, mula bandha, mula bandha, mula bandha!!
TIP: standing on a block during the set up can give you extra height and make the final transfer of weight smaller and therefore easier.
Inhale, shift the weight into the arms and bend the elbows some more (just like in chaturanga dandasana). Exhale, dip the chest, lift the butt and lift one foot off the floor at a time. In time you will be able to lift both feet together.
TIP: Keep the gaze forward of the hands. If you look straight down or back you’re much more likely to lose your balance and fall.
Once both feet are lifted touch the toes together and lift the feet high toward the ceiling. At first you may only be able to hold the pose for a second or two but you’ll find that your strength will build quickly and when it does so will your ability to hold bakasana longer.
CHALLENGE: Jump back into chaturanga dandasana
Here are some postures that will help you to build the back and core strength required for bakasana:
- adho mukha svanasana
- plank pose
- chaturanga dandasana
- badha konasana
- happy baby
Remember, yoga is a practice of exploration rather than attainment so don’t get too hung up on the outcome. Enjoy the process of exploring and strengthening the body. Be committed to this process and the rest will take care of itself 🙂