or ‘whats in a name and does it really matter when you’ve scraped your nose on the mat?’
Kakasana (crow pose) and Bakasana (crane pose)
2 variations on the same theme, that theme being “Let’s try an arm balance and lets try not to break our necks”. Now as far as arm balances go, crow is relatively easy. I mean it’s not scorpion right?
Mr. Iyengar in Scorpion pose
So basically the difference between the 2 poses is with the arms, in ‘crow’ the arms are bent so the knees can rest just above the triceps and in ‘crane’ the arms are straight so the core has to do all the work, no resting on the elbows here. To learn the basics of the pose start in a squat (malasana pose) with the feet as close together as you can and knees wider than your hips, place your hands on the floor about 6 -8 inches in front of you, place the knees as high on the arms as possible and hug the inner thighs close to the body to activate more core strength.
Begin to shift your weight back and forth on your toes to get the feel for your core engagement. Let your gaze be more forward than down, in other words if your hands are at 10 and 2 (like on a steering wheel) then your gaze are at 12. Notice the lifting of the pelvic floor (mula bandha) and then the lifting of the belly (uddiyana bandha) drawing the belly button into the back, then float the heart center forward, pull your ears back to keep the eyes lifted. If you tuck your chin and drop your head you will almost certainly fall on your noggin’ or your nose. Now try lifting one foot at a time by pointing your toes back, rather than just lifting the heel up. Then try pointing both toes back to take your body up in flight.
Once you have these steps down, you can work on flattening your back, lifting your chest up, and keeping your gaze focused ahead rather than down. And then you can try doing the ‘crane’ version with straight arms.
Remember that even though you’re close to the ground that the energy in the body is lifting up and to create lift you need to press down, moving in opposition helps to create strength. Press the hands down to engage hasta (hand) bandha, this gives you more lift up through the belly and shoulders. The pointing of the toes (instead of just lifting the heels) engages padha (foot) bandha. Notice the opposition here as well, reaching back through the toes & out through the crown of the head, while drawing in at your center, reinforces that strength and stability. And to be honest it doesn’t hurt (as much) to have pillows in front of you for when you fall… and you will, everyone does when learning to fly. And while we don’t have fairy dust to help us fly like Peter Pan, it does help to keep happy thoughts and not get frustrated.
Its fun! Give it a try. Let me know how you do.
Yep that’s me, in blue jeans and boots Doing ‘Crow in the snow’ October 2011 at Clingman’s Dome, near Gatlinburgh TN