6 Prep Poses for Kakasana & Bakasana (Crow & Crane Pose)

by | Jan 22, 2018 | Climbing, General

Crow vs. Crane

The names ‘Basakana’ (Crane) and ‘Kakasana’ (Crow) are used interchangeably in yoga and it can get a bit confusing about which one is which. Generally the bent arm, more easily accessible version is Kakasana (Crow), and the straight arm version is Bakasana (Crane). To make it easy, I’ll refer to both poses as Bakasana in this article.

Bakasana is most likely the first arm balance you will be introduced to in yoga. It requires a considerable amount of strength, coordination and control, and feeling yourself lift and balance for the first time is super exciting.

The benefits of Bakasana for climbers are extensive and include:

  • strengthening the arms, wrists, upper back, shoulders, abdominals, pelvic floor, hip flexes, inner legs and hamstrings.
  • strengthening your shoulder stabilising muscles (reducing the risk of climbing-related shoulder injuries)
  • improving core strength and body tension, and
  • tuning into body positioning and balance.

Preparation Poses

Bakasana is quite a challenging pose and being able to balance with control and ease require the body to be warmed up and prepared. Here are 6 poses you can use to prepare for Bakasana.

Wrist Warm Ups

Bakasana can be quite intense on the wrists, particularly when you progress into the straight arm variation. So warming up the wrists is a nice place to begin.

 

Sit back on your heels with your hands on the floor in front of you, fingers facing backwards. Roll up onto the tips of your fingers and back down again, feeling a nice stretch through the wrists and back of your forearms. Repeat as many times as you like.

Wrist Warm Ups

Then turn your hands over so that the back of your hands are on the floor (fingers still pointing towards you) and begin the process again, this time feeling a stretch through the front of your wrists and forearms. Repeat these exercises until you feel warmed up and ready to proceed.

Table Top Position

Come to ‘all fours’ on your mat: hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Rotate your upper arms, seeing your inner elbow crease rotate forward until it ‘points’ in a direction between your thumb and first finger. This sets your shoulders is a stable position. Press through the base of your thumb and first finger. Activate three points of lift by pulling in your belly, lower ribs and collar bones towards your spine. Keep you head and neck inline with your spine.

"Shruggies"

From table top position, isolate just your upper chest and drop it towards the floor as you inhale. As you exhale press your hands into the floor and round through your upper back, pullin in your lower ribs and lower belly. Broaden across the back of your shoulders, beep your pelvis in a neutral position. Repeat 5 times or more/less according to what you need.

High Plank with Upper Back Press

From table top position, step your left leg back and right leg back, coming into a plank position. ‘Point’ your tailbone towards your heels. Keep lifting the belly, lower ribs, and collarbones. Now feel yourself mimicking the pressing sensation form the previous pose, allowing your shoulder blades to broaden across your back.

Malasana

Come into a squatting position with the feet together. Separate your knees and bring your chest forward. With your hands out in front try to lower your forearms to the floor. If this feels enough for you then stay here, or wrap your arms around your legs and interlace your fingers around the back of your heels. Lightly press your upper arms against your shins feeling your upper chest move forward and a release through the sides of your neck. Then lightly press your knees into the sides of your chest feeling an activation through your inner legs. Stay for 5–10 breaths.

Supine Bakasana

Lie down with your back on the floor and your knees bent. As you exhale bring your knees towards your chest the same width as your shoulders, with your big toes touching. Extend your arms up towards the ceiling with the palms facing up as though you are pressing into the ceiling. Take an inhale. As you exhale, squeeze your knees down towards your arm pits and feel your lower back come off the floor. At the same time, press your hands upwards feeling your shoulder blades come off the floor, letting your knees slide up your upper arms. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Then release. Repeat until you get a good sense of the activation required for Bakasana.

Awesome! You’re now ready to give Bakasana your best shot. Head over to this article for tips to shift into Kakasana and progress into the straight-armed Bakasana.

–– Enjoy the process!