This week's asana is crane (crow) pose. Crane pose is usually the first arm balance that you will learn. It can be a pretty intimidating pose when its first introduced. I know it was for me and I wrote about it in my "Conquering Crow" piece. Crane requires some strength but one of the main things you will need to conquer is your fear. Typically, it's a fear of face planting.
The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Bakasana" (bah-KAHS-uh-nuh), comes from the word "baka." Although it is usually referred to as "crow," it is more accurately translated as "crane."
To feel more comfortable with doing this pose you may want to consider placing a pile of blankets or a pillow in front of you in case you fall forward. Be sure to set up your "falling spot" before you come into the pose!
- Begin by standing at the top of your mat in standing position with your arms at your sides. Step your feet about as wide as your mat.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips, coming into a squat. Separate your thighs so they are slightly wider than your torso, but keep your feet as close together as possible. If your heels lift, support them with a folded mat or blanket.
- Drop your torso slightly forward and bring your upper arms to the inside of your knees. Press your elbows along the inside of your knees and bring your palms together in prayer position. This is Garland Pose (Malasana).
- Bring your palms to the mat, keeping them about shoulder-distance apart. Spread your fingers and press evenly across both palms and through your knuckles.
- Press your shins against the back of your upper arms. Draw your knees in as close to your underarms as possible.
- Lift onto the balls of your feet as you lean forward. Round your back and draw your abdominal muscles in firmly. Keep your tailbone tucked in toward your heels.
- Look at the floor between your hands or at a point even more forward, if possible.
- As you continue to lean forward, lift your feet off the floor and draw your heels toward your buttocks. If it's difficult to lift both feet at the same time, try lifting one foot and then the other. Balance your torso and legs on the back of your upper arms.
- Keep pressing evenly across your palms and fingers, then begin to straighten your elbows. Keep your knees and shins hugging in tightly toward your armpits. Keep your forearms drawn firmly toward the midline of your body.
- Touch your big toes together. Draw your belly in. Breathe steadily.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, exhale as you slowly lower your feet to the floor, coming back into Garland Pose.
- Strengthens arms and wrists
- Stretches the upper back
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles
- Opens the groins
- Tones the abdominal organs