Steps & Stretches to Prepare for Bakasana or the Crow Pose
What is Bakasana or the Crow Pose?
The name of the asana is derived from Sanskrit where “Baka” means “Crow” and “Asana” means “Pose” or “Posture”. The English name of this asana is called Crow Pose as the body resembles a crow when the body is in final position. It is considered best when Bakasana or The Crow Pose is practiced early in the morning. However, if because of some reason, you are not able to practice it in the morning, you can this pose in the evening as well. Mornings are preferred as the food is digested and your body has the energy to perform the asanas. But make sure that when you are practicing this pose in the evening, you should have your food five to six hours before you practice as your food takes this much time to digest.
Bakasana or The Crow Pose is a little complicated asana to master but when mastered after perseverance and constant practice, it is a very good stretching and relaxing exercise for the body. It is a balancing asana and stretches the spine, legs, arms, abdominal muscles and chest. It can be performed by people from all age groups. It is a very simple and effective yoga pose.
Steps And Stretches To Prepare For Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
#1. Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose to master Bakasana or The crow Pose
This asana is considered as the base of Crow Pose or Bakasana. And it is an intermediate posture that targets the abdomen, arms, and chest. This pose is also good as it strengthens the wrists. Chaturanga Dandasana strengthens the muscles of the limbs as well as the core and promotes good form which is why it is one of the most commonly recommended yoga postures for people of all ages.
Steps to practice Chaturanga Dandasana or the Four Limbed Staff Pose
- Get into Plank Pose or Khumbhakasana before starting Chaturanga Dandasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
- Now, from Plank pose, align your shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists and come onto toes of your feet while pressing the soles of your feet back trying to touch the ground. But make sure you do not touch the ground.
- Bring your elbows directly over your wrists. The arms should be curved in such a way that the elbows and wrists are in a straight line.
- While practicing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose, slowly lower your body in such a way that it is only a few inches above the floor.
- Keep your back flat while practicing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose
- Lift through your chest and broaden your shoulders while keeping your shoulders in line with your elbows.
- Make sure that in this position you are aware of the stretch in all abdominal and leg muscles.
- This is the final Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose.
- If the final position of Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose is difficult for you to practice in the beginning, you can come to your knees first. Then, lower your torso in such a way that it is an inch above the floor. This pose is called Half Chaturanga Dandasana. You can start your practice with this get on with the final pose with regular practice.
- Make sure that your elbows are always in a straight line and they do not hover on to the sides. The elbows should always be closer to the ribcage and pointed towards the heels while practicing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose.
- Your upper and lower arms should be perpendicular to each other.
- Hold the final Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose for a few breaths or for as long as you can, depending on your comfort and level of practice.
- To release the pose, lower your body on the mat with your arms stretched straight in front of your body.
- Advanced practitioners can get back into Plank pose and practice Surya Namaskar after releasing Chaturanga Dandasana or The Four Limbed Staff Pose.
#2. Anjaneyasana or Crescent Moon Pose to master Bakasana or Crow Pose
Anjaneyasana stretches the thighs and groins and opens the chest. It stretches the gluteus muscles and quadriceps which improves balance, concentration and core strength of the body as well and prepares the body for Crow Pose.
Steps to Practice Anjaneyasana or Crescent Pose:
- To practice Anjaneyasana, get in to Ado Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog.
- While exhaling, move your right foot in front in between your hands. Your right knee will be in alignment or in line with the heel in this position.
- Stay in this position and lower your left knee and place it on the floor behind your hips.
- While inhaling, lift your torso and raise your hands above you head and the palms are facing each other in such a way that the arms are touching the ears.
- Make sure that your arms are perpendicular to the ground in this position.
- Also, try to push your pubic bone towards the navel and also try to push the tail bone downwards.
- Exhale in this position and make sure that your hips settle down and forward and you feel a very good stretch in the frontal region of the leg and hip flexors.
- Stretch your arms in such a way that you feel a stretch on your sides and torso.
- Try and look upwards in such a way that your hand and back is turned a little backwards.
- You can also raise the knee of your left leg from the ground to come into full crescent pose. However, do not stretch if you cannot get in to the full crescent pose.
- Stay in this position for a few breaths or a few seconds.
- Maintain your breathing pattern while being in this position.
- Slowly, release the pose by bringing your arms downwards and placing the hands on the mat.
- Take your left knee to front and come in Adho Mukha Svanasana again.
- Practice the same pose by switching the legs or by bringing the left leg forward this time.
#3. Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend to master Bakasana or Crow Pose
Prasarita Padottanasana can be performed to soothe, align, rebalance and calm the body, mind and soul. It is a counter asana for all the backward bending yogasanas and prepares the body for complicated asanas like Bakasana or Crow Pose.
Steps to Practice Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend
- To practice Prasarita Padottanasana, stand in Tadasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
- While inhaling, step a little so that you create a space between both feet. There should be a distance of 3 to 4 feet between both feet.
- Bring your hands to rest on your waist against your hips and bring your feet to remain parallel to each other.
- Exhale deeply in this pose.
- While inhaling, lengthen your torso and lift your entire spine and chest up.
- While Exhaling, fold forward from the hip joint leading with your chest, place your hands shoulder width apart on the ground with your fingers in one line with the toes.
- As you keep stretching and you are down, bring the crown of your head to touch the ground, and push the buttocks towards the ceiling. Your abdominal muscles must also engage with the lengthening of your spine.
- At this point the body weight is borne by the legs, the palms and slightly by your head.
- You can either place your hands underneath your legs or on your mat, next to your head, with your elbows bent. Or you could also hold your big toes with your fingers whichever you feel are comfortable for your body to be in.
- Maintain your breath in this position. Keep breathing gently and normally while you in this position.
- Stay in this pose for as long as you can or for a few breaths. Beginners can a small break and practice it for 3-4 times when the body is not able to stand in this pose for a longer time.
- To release the position, inhale and apply pressure on the ground with your palms and push yourself up to the erect standing position.
- Bring the legs together again and rest by taking few deep breaths in Tadasana.
- Repeat the same pose 4-5 times while practicing yoga for maximum benefits.
#4. Utkatasana or The Chair Pose to master Bakasana or Crow Pose
Utkatasana or Chair Pose works directly on the muscles of the arms and legs, but it also stimulates the diaphragm and heart ad prepares the body for Bakasana or The Crow Pose.
Steps to Practice Utkatasana or The Chair Pose:
- To practice Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, get into Tadasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
- To practice Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, the big toes of your feet should touch each other and your heels should be lying a little apart from each other.
- While practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, you should squeeze your lower abdomen inwards in such a way that it should feel like you are touching your spine from inside while taking the lower abdomen inwards.
- Move your shoulder bones and open your chest while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Take a deep breath and raise your arms over your head.
- While practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, you can keep your arms either parallel to each other or keep your palms joined when your arms are on over your head.
- Keep your arms in front of your ears or at the same level or before your ears.
- Gently and carefully bend your knees and push down your pelvis, such that it seems like you are seated in an imaginary chair while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Be aware as you hold the pose, and keep your spine lengthened while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose
- While practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, try to keep your thighs as parallel to the ground as possible. While doing this your knees will come out in front of your feet.
- Your inward thighs are supposed to be parallel to each other and the thigh bones should be squeezed to the heels.
- Stay in this posture for a few seconds or for as long as you can.
- Inhale and keep your knees straight while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose
- Exhale deeply and bring down your hands to the normal position.
- Repeat the same process around 3 to 5 times while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Calm your mind and relax while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Now hold the pose for up to a minute.
- Gently go down and sit in Sukhasana.
#5. Malasana or The Garland Pose to Master Bakasana or Crow Pose
Malasana is a forward bending asana. It releases the stress and tension in the body when it is flexed. This asana provides a rhythmic flow of energy and awareness in the body.
Steps to Practice Malasana or the Garland Pose:
- Stand straight on the floor or yoga mat. Get into Tadasana.
- While standing in Tadasana, raise your spine and squeeze your belly inwards to extend the spine and shoulders upward while taking deep breaths.
- Bring your palms together in Namaste pose or anjani pose near your chest.
- Inhale deeply and while exhaling, bend your knees and sit on your feet and soles. Maintain a gap between the knees but maintain the feet together.
- Once you are in this position with knees bent, the body will be leaning forward and hence lower back will be stretched backwards to initially give you balance. This is normal, but if one is not able to sit on the feet and soles, one could balance the body on toes for the first few times during the practice.
- You can also keep your feet a little apart during the initial phase of practice if you find it difficult to do it completely in the right manner with the feet close to each other.
- One should aim towards sitting with knees apart and feet together to get the maximum benefit from Malasana.
- Bring your arms in Anjani mudra to rest between the inner thighs. Once you are comfortable keep moving your legs apart by moving the elbows deeper between the thighs to open the knees deeper outwards. Make sure that your knees are a little wider than your torso.
- If you are not able to balance your body in Anajani mudra, you can also keep your palms on the floor close to your feet in order to support your body and to continue to keep pushing the knees outwards.
- Maintain your breath in this position. Inhale and Exhale very deeply and with every inhale and exhale continue taking your elbows deep between the thighs and bring your lower back and spine inwards and straight.
- Also make sure that your hips remain very close to your ankles.
- To release from the pose, place the palms on the floor and slowly raise the entire body up and stand releasing the back and the shoulders and stay calm with normal breathing. Bring the body in Tadasana again and take a few breaths here to be ready to go back into Malasana to gain more comfort.
Technique Of Practicing Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
One must get into Tadasana to practice Bakasana.
Steps To Practice Tadasana
- To practice Tadasana in standing position, stand straight and keep your legs slightly apart from each other.
- Raise your hands above your head and look straight while focusing on one point in front of you.
- Interlock the fingers of both the hands and turn them upwards in such a way that the palms are towards the ceiling/sky.
- Take a deep breath or while inhaling, stretch your arms, chest and shoulders upwards.
- While practicing Tadasana, the gaze can be adjusted to look a little above while stretching.
- Raise you heels in such a way that all the weight of your body is on the toes.
- Remain in this position for 20-30 seconds.
- Retain your breath while stretching.
- While exhaling, come down to your original position.
- This completes one round of Standing Tadasana.
- You can practice Tadasana for 8-10 rounds.
Steps To Practice Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
- Get into Tadasana first to practice Bakasana or The Crow pose.
- Come into a squat or squatting position to start with.
- While in a squatting position on a yoga mat, maintain equal distance between both the knees and keep the feet flat on the mat.
- Now, from this position, place the palms in between the knees and flat on the ground while maintaining the knees and elbows at the same level.
- From the above mentioned position, bend your torso forward while lifting both the legs up so that the whole body balances solely on the palms.
- While in this posture, maintain a straight gaze so that the body balances properly.
- This is the final Bakasana position. Stay in the final position for a few breaths or for as long as you feel comfortable.
- Finally to return to the original position, slowly bring the feet down on the ground and go back into a Tadasana.
- Repeat the exercise for three to four rounds.
- Beginners should try to stay in this position for 1-2 minutes or until your legs and feet start feeling discomfort.
- Advanced practitioners should stay in this pose for 3-4 minutes or for as long as you can.
Breathing Pattern To Be Followed While Practicing Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
- Inhale, while bending the leg to come into a squatting position.
- Maintain your breath while being in this position.
- Exhale after the knee comes close to the triceps of the leg of the same side.
- Inhale deeply while raising your body from the ground by pacing both your palms firmly on the ground to get into Bakasana or The Crow Pose.
- Maintain a constant breath while you are in Bakasana or The Crow Pose Keep inhaling and exhaling deeply while being in asana.
- Exhale deeply once or twice after releasing the pose.
Awareness While Practicing Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
Physical Awareness - The Physical Awareness while practicing Bakasana or The Crow Pose should be on the breath synchronized with the movement and flexion of the spine from top to bottom and on the stretch of the abdomen and expansion of the lungs.
Spiritual Awareness – The Spiritual Awareness while practicing Bakasana or The Crow Pose should be on Vishuddhi Chakra or The Throat Chakra. The Vishuddhi Chakra is the starting point of Udana Prana. It is a function of this Prana to purify the body of toxic substances while breathing. Being throat chakra, it also governs the actions of thyroid, parathyroid glands and functions related to the throat.
Preparatory And Follow Up Poses To Be Practiced With Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
Preparatory Poses: The various preparatory poses to be practiced before Bakasana or The Crow Pose are Dandasana or The Staff Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Double pigeon pose, Paripurna Navasana or The full Boat Pose, Sukhasana or The easy Pose, Marichyasana, Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana or The Compass Pose, High Lunge pose or Utthita ashwa sanchalanasana, Ardha Matseyendrasana or Half lord of the fishes pose
Follow Up Poses: The various follow up poses or Pranayamas to be practiced after Bakasana or The Crow Pose are Anulom Vilom or The Alternate Nostril Breathing, Kapalbhati Pranayama, Vajrasana or The Diamond pose, Janu Sirasana or Head to knee pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or the Pigeon Pose, Savasana or the Corpse Pose, Astavakrasana or Eight Angled Pose.
Benefits Of Practicing Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
- It strengthens the whole body especially the arms, legs, shoulders and feet.
- Regular practice of this asana calms the mind and relieves a headache, insomnia, and fatigue.
- Regular practice of Bakasana or The Crow Pose tones the muscles of the body and helps in weight loss.
- Practicing this pose increases the circulation to the brain.
- Bakasana or The Crow Pose lengthens the spine, strengthens the muscles of the chest increasing lung capacity.
- It rejuvenates and body and makes you feel energized.
- It helps treat lower back ailments like Sciatica
- This pose is also beneficial for lung disorders like Asthma.
- Bakasana or The Crow Pose also help in treating menstrual symptoms like menstrual pain and discomfort.
- It also helps relieve mild depression and stress.
- Regular practice of Bakasana or The Crow Pose improves digestion and also helps in getting rid of Constipation.
- It also helps relieve symptoms of Sinusitis.
- This pose helps in the treatment of Urinary problems as well.
- Bakasana or The Crow Pose helps in increasing flexibility during difficult situations.
- It is a good pose to practice before taking up advanced hip openers like Hanumanasana.
- It makes your core stronger, improves your coordination and balance.
- Two Hands And Arms Pose Boosts your endurance and improves your focus and concentration.
Precautions And Contraindications While Practicing Bakasana Or The Crow Pose
- Do not practice Bakasana or The Crow Pose if you are suffering from High Blood Pressure.
- Bakasana or The Crow Pose should not be practiced if you are suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
- It should also not be practiced if you are suffering from eye ailments like detached eye retina and if you have weak eye capillaries.
- Do not practice this pose if you have any shoulder injuries like dislocated shoulder or shoulder pain.
- This pose should not be practiced if you are suffering from Diarrhea or you have had an episode of diarrhea recently.
- Bakasana or The Crow Pose is an inverted Yoga Pose and Inverted poses are extremely important because they reverse the action of gravity on the body and get the blood and lymph flowing in opposite directions and hence it increases the blood flow to all over the body.
- It stretches the whole body. All the muscles of the body are stretched while practicing this asana.
- Since the weight of the whole body is beard by arms and legs, it helps in strengthening the bones and thus prevents osteoporosis from happening.
- Because of its inverted nature, blood flow is increased to the top of the body; shoulder stand can help improve brain function and cognition and also help reduce anxiety and depression and calms the whole body.
- Self-confidence and posture are also improved with regular practice of Bakasana or The Crow Pose.
- Pregnant females should also not practice Bakasana or The Crow Pose.
- Do not force the shape to your body.
- Do not overexert yourself. Make sure that you do not push yourself to get into the proper shape of Bakasana or The Crow Pose. Keep practicing gradually and you will reach the final position. Go as far as your body allows.
- Always consult a doctor if you have any doubts or any chronic disease and practice the asana under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher.
Tips To Perform Bakasana Or The Crow Pose In A Better Way:
Always keep your palms firmly on the ground while practicing this asana. Use the whole surface area of your hands while doing the Asana while the major pressure should be exerted from the index finger onto the floor.
Your knee should be bent properly to get into the final asana. While practicing you can either fix your gaze o a particular point or keep your eyes closed to focus on the eye center.
Activate your arms while practicing Bakasana or The Crow Pose by rotating your forearms slightly inwards towards each other and also rotate your upper arms slightly outwards. This sounds difficult to do but it is anatomically possible and it gives you neck more space while practicing the Asana.
- While practicing the asana, keep your shoulders firm and broaden your upper back. This will provide apace and stability to the upper back.
- Firm up your core by engaging your belly. You can draw your navel towards your spine. Draw your ribs in and keep your core activated throughout practice.
- Firm your outer thighs in such a way that the inner thighs rotate. After practicing this you will easier in moving your hip bones frequently.
- Start to straighten out your legs while you practice this asana as this will lengthen and stretch the spine and make it more relaxed.
- Make sure that your left leg which is on the ground is straight and the head is straight without arching downwards or upwards.
- Also, make sure that you do not drop your chest to the floor during the practice.
- Keep your spine as erect as you can while practicing Bakasana or The Crow Pose.
- Beginners can place a block or bolster under their foot if they are not able to support the weight of the entire body on the palms.