Sunday, August 3, 2014

Improving Core Strength with Yoga: Crow Pose crow pose

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Bakasana, or Crow Pose, is a Yoga arm balance that alleviates Carpel Tunnel Syndrome as it strengthens and stretches out the wrists, forearms and shoulders. This is a wonderful pose to include in your Yoga practice if you spend a lot of time typing on the computer, playing tennis or swinging a golf club. This accessible arm balance also releases tension throughout the thoracic spine in the upper back area, improves balance and greatly increases abdominal strength over time. Crow Pose is optimally practiced after a series of Sun Salutations and standing Yoga asanas. It is traditionally practiced prior to backbends, inversions and seated poses. 

When you are adequately warmed up and are ready to practice Bakasana, you may wish to place a folded blanket or towel a foot or two in front of you on your Yoga mat in case you tip over when you are attempting to lift off your mat in Crow Pose! Most Yoga practitioners find it to be challenging at first to maintain their balance and equilibrium in Crow Pose. If you are just beginning to learn to practice this posture, placing a folded blanket in front of you and a Yoga block horizontally on your mat a foot or so behind you will help you to “lift off” more easily and hopefully with less trepidation! 

* Bakasana or Crow Pose

To begin your practice of Crow Pose, balance on a Yoga block if you are using one, or simply balance on your mat with the inner edges of your feet touching and your heels slightly raised. Keeps your knees comfortably far apart, just wider than the width of your shoulders. Place your hands on the mat several inches in front of your feet. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders. With an inhale, lean forward onto your hands and raise your legs off the mat and rest your shines on the upper backsides of your arms. 

Take a moment and play with the balance. Can you feel when you are tipping too far forward? Likewise, can you feel when you are leaning too far backward and gravity pulls your legs back down to the Yoga mat? As you play with finding the sweet spot that allows you to balance your shins comfortably on your upper arms with your feet raised off the mat, remember to keep a steady gaze point or drishti in front of you on the floor. This steady point of concentration will help to stabilize your balance. 

If you find it difficult to maintain your balance with both of your feet elevated off of the Yoga mat, try lifting just one foot at a time off the mat. This preliminary action will help to teach your body how to balance in the posture as the muscles in your arms, shoulders and abdominal area are strengthened. The primary action in this Yoga pose is one of flexion as your knees bend in towards your abdomen, your back rounds and your shoulders blades move away from the back of your spine and toward your Heart Chakra. 

In order to increase your sense of solidity and balance in Crow Pose, use the energy of opposing forces to enhance your stability by squeezing your legs firmly against your upper arms, while your arms simultaneously apply consistent pressure against your shins. The combination of the movement of pulling your legs in toward the center of your body while holding the weight of your body off of your Yoga mat with your arms is the key sequence of movements in the posture that increases abdominal strength.

Additionally, your balance and strength will improve in this posture if you root down firmly into your Yoga mat with your hands as you simultaneously push the mat away from you with your palms. If you are an intermediate Yoga practitioner and you would like to further increase the abdominal strengthening benefits of Bakasana, you may wish to come out of the pose by jumping directly back into Plank Pose and flowing into the next asana from Plank. Practice Crow Pose three times at your own pace, and then either rest in Child’s Pose or jump back into Plank Pose and continue with your practice of the next Yoga asana. 

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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