Costa Rica Yoga JournalMark Goldstein

Bakasana, the Crow Pose

crow pose
Crow Pose

By Mark Goldstein

I would like us to focus on a pose this month which will be a challenge for us all. The pose of the month is Bakasana, in English known as Crow Pose

Bakasana is an arm balancing pose that all of us can do, that is, as long as you are willing to try, willing to fall, and willing to have fun. If you are are in, then I will love to have you join us as we explore this challenging pose in our classes this month. I find that challenging ourselves can become a very humbling, building and achieving experience, and always worth our efforts. 

Playa Yoga

I’ve mentioned in a past article that yoga is one of the rare physical activities where we achieve more even as we age, and not the reverse as we see in so many other types of physical endeavors. Bakasana is a great example of demonstrating this aspect of yoga, and a great challenge to take on, especially if you’ve never practiced it before. 

I have seen many times the look of glee on someone’s face as they achieve this pose, whether they are mastering the full pose after many tries, or getting part way into it on the first or second time practicing. Bakasana is one of those poses that can intimidate at first glance, but with the correct approach, Crow Pose will become much more achievable then you ever expected. So, what could be better than a pose that challenges you, is very achievable plus builds strength and balance? So let’s do it! 

There are a few things that are important to get into your head before you begin. First, you need to know that you might fall. Second, know that by falling, we’re talking about maybe six inches onto a soft yoga mat. Third, and this is very important, you must laugh during and after this epic six inch fall when it happens. 

When you look at the picture of Bakasana, you might think that you must have an abundance of arm and upper body strength. This is not at all the case. When practiced correctly, you are really using your entire body. I know that sounds like more work, but it is just the opposite. If you have ever driven a four wheel drive vehicle, it becomes very obvious how much “easier” it is when all four wheels are digging in, it’s a lot like that. When we “spread out the load”, things feel much easier, less effort. If you have very strong upper body strength, then this pose will be a piece of cake. However, you probably will be missing out on many of its facets, because it is “easy” for you. 

Yes, this pose is partly about using our arm strength, but it is equally about focusing on placing our bodies in the correct position and then squeezing in to lift ourselves up. Remember, going up into the air in yoga is about pressing down and squeezing in, and not just muscling ourselves up, and there is a big difference. Considering makes arm balance poses accessible to all of us. 

Not all of us are going to get into the full expression of Bakasana. There are variations in this pose that can make it easier or more challenging. In the full expression of the pose, our heads are held high, but as we work our ways towards the full pose, we may choose to place a block on our mats in front of us which enables us to rest our forehead down onto. Another variation is to make use of a partner, or the teacher, and they can give us a light hand on our backs to help with our balance as we work on our pressing down and squeezing in. These are some of the things we can practice as we work our way towards our goal. It is very common to work with a person who said, at first, that they would never be able to practice an arm balance such as Bakasana, only to later see them get that look of glee on their face as they surprise themselves right out of there own disbelief a few classes later, and I love to see that.

I will be very happy to lead you into Bakasana, or Crow Pose, and give you all of the instruction you may need. I offer private group and individual yoga classes here at our Manuel Antonio retreat, or I come to you. You may either set up your own class, or possibly join one of our ongoing group classes if we have one already scheduled. We also offer various types of professional massage therapy including Thai Yoga Massage, Traditional Deep Tissue, and Couple’s Massage. We will be including Bakasana in our classes this month, and I would live for you to join us.