Ready to start adding arm balances to your yoga routine?
If you’re just beginning your arm balance practice, it’s important to start simple. While beginner arm balance poses are challenging, they also allow you to explore the key components of most arm balances, which are core activation, muscle control, and letting go of fear of falling. Bakasana (a.k.a. the Crane Pose) is a beginner-friendly arm balance pose that will teach you the basics you can use to advance your arm balances over time. The Crane Pose allows for the opportunity to find strength and balance through your arms and core, and will teach you how to activate certain muscle groups to hold these balances.
Below are the yoga poses you can try to build your body up to the full Bakasana.
By Jessie Wren
Utkatasana – Chair Pose
This posture starts to warm up the core, while still allowing you to feel grounded. Start in this posture by feeling the abdominal engagement when you lengthen the tailbone down. As you tuck the tailbone, feel your abdomen start to fire up – this is the feeling you want when you begin to lift into Bakasana.
Navasana – Boat Pose
Navasana is another great posture to strengthen the abs and help you find your balance. Start with your seat on the floor and start by lifting your legs in the air. The next step is to lift your arms up by your side and straightening through your spine. Hold this posture for thirty seconds and feel your lower abdominals ignite. If you can hold this posture for at least 30 seconds, you are ready to move on to the next pose.
Supta Bakasana – Reclined Crane Pose
This is a great posture to feel the exact core engagement you need once you are in the arm balance. Start by lying on your back and squeeze your knees as high up your arms toward your armpits as you can. Flex your toes and push your arms up toward the ceiling. This posture is one of my favorites for students who still have fear of getting up in the arm balance.
Bakasana Variation – Crane Pose Kickstand
Once you start feeling more comfortable with attempting the arm balance, start on your tiptoes. Bring your knees toward your armpits and start shifting your weight forward. Keep looking as far forward as you can and try to feel the same abdominal engagement you felt in the previous postures. Once you feel your body weight tipping forward, try lifting your right foot off the floor and see how that feels. Then switch feet and maintain awareness of your lower abdominal muscles. Having this kickstand is helpful for students who are scared of shifting too far forward.
Supported Bakasana – Supported Crane Pose
Once you are ready to start flying both your feet off the ground, use a block as a marker of how far forward you need to shift. Blocks are wonderful props to get in the habit of using with many arm balances because most students aren’t aware of just how far forward you need to go to find the balance. A good measurement for the block is a foot in front of your hands. Try to avoid bringing all your weight to your forehead in this posture – instead, try to find an equilibrium in your core.
Bakasana – Crane Pose
Once you have conquered the previous steps, you are now ready for Bakasana – congratulations! This is a challenging and sometimes “scary” posture because you have to focus your body weight more forward than we are typically used to. If you do fall in this posture, keep in mind that you are only a foot off the ground.
To find the balance in Bakasana, you have to shift your body forward and keep looking as far forward as you can. If you start to feel “wobbly” or off balance, try playing with your weight in your fingertips. Also, keep in mind that you have to really round your upper back (similar to Cat pose) to find the correct muscle engagement.
All images courtesy of YogiApproved.com.
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