When is the last time you took flight? With arm balances, it’s possible even for us wingless beings to get that change in perspective that comes with hovering above the ground. Just as a baby bird looking over the edge of a nest must learn, the key to flying in arm balances is to trust that your body knows exactly what to do if only you move your mind out of the way.
Bakasana, crow pose, is a great place to practice the trust that leads to flight. It might seem counterintuitive, but getting into this pose has little to do with the strength of your arms. Like all asana, it’s about alignment – knowing how your muscles and bones should line up and where the strength of the pose lies. In the case of bakasana, the strength is in the pelvic floor.
Sure, if you have a lot of upper body strength it’s easy enough to hoist yourself up into this pose, but you’ll eventually strain your wrist, elbow and shoulder joints and cause injury. Learning to lift yourself gracefully by engaging your pelvic floor will lead to proper alignment and long-term strength in your entire body.
The pelvic floor is an important set of muscles that are often overlooked. This band of muscles beneath the belly holds your organs in your body. When it is regularly engaged through poses like bakasana or the sit down/stand up practice we’ll feature next month, you’ll feel stronger and more energized throughout your entire body. A toned pelvic floor keeps our digestive and reproductive organs healthy, prevents back pain and ensures proper alignment both on and off the Yoga mat. And most importantly, it promotes energy flow between your lower and upper body, which is integral for good health and well-being.
Even though you can’t see your pelvic floor, you can trust that it is there to support you in bakasana. This is how you will take flight.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana postures with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and provide a sustainable practice that you can continue throughout life.
Bakasana from the ground up
To build trust in your ability to fly, place a cushion or blanket on the floor in front of you. This makes it much more comfortable and easier to laugh at yourself if you have an unexpected crash landing.
5. To come down, slowly breathe to touch your feet back to your starting place. If you are only doing a few poses gently roll to your back and end with a reclined twist such as jathara parivartanasanaand then savasana. If you have a full practice, insert bakasana or other arm balances into your suryanamaskar after your standing poses.
Common trouble spots