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Bakasana – Crow / Crane Pose

Since running primarily works the lower body, yoga is a perfect time to work the upper body and find physical and mental balance.

While chaturangas in your sun salutations and push-ups can cultivate the strength that running doesn’t provide, it’s so much more fun to do an arm balance. Bakasana, also known as kakasana, crow or crane pose, is a playful and challenging pose that works the wrists, hands, forearms and shoulders while also engaging the core.

Prepare for the arm balancing by stretching the muscles you’re about to work. Interlace the hands behind the back and lift the hands away from the body to stretch the shoulders. Rotate the wrists, bend the elbows and roll the shoulders to open and lubricate the joints. Massage the forearms. Do whatever feels good and will help relax upper body muscles.

Crow PoseBegin in a squat, resting the body between the thighs and knees. Place the hands firmly on the ground about six inches away from the body. Then find a comfortable spot for your knees on your upper arms, either on the triceps or in the armpits. Stay on the balls of the feet while adjusting to find a comfortable position.

Start playing with shifting your weight. Lean onto the hands and arms or try extending the arms a little by pressing into the earth. Remember to keep the head and gaze comfortably upward. Once weight shifting feels easy, experiment by lifting one foot off the ground at a time. Alternate feet. Keep the lifted foot active. Engage the core up and in toward the spine.

Eventually, you will find it easier and easier to float off the ground into crow pose. Assuage fears of falling forward by practicing on carpet or placing pillows and blankets in front of you for cushioning. But keeping your gaze up will help avoid that risk – try looking at a spot on the floor about 8 inches out from you.

In crow pose, the arms will be bent deeper, with your knees resting near your elbows. In crane pose the knees will rest higher up on your arms near the armpits, and your arms will be almost straight. This article shows you the difference with photos.

As you practice, shift your mind into runner mode and notice how similar the thinking process is. Find a zone, a place where your only thoughts are on the breath and what you are doing in the present moment. Cultivate that running focus in your yoga practice.

This pose can be difficult, particularly for beginners, so it may only be necessary to try once or twice the first couple of times. It’s like creating base mileage—a runner has to slowly build upon shorter miles in order to run longer.

Last but not least, be sure to stretch the muscles out after practicing bakasana to avoid soreness.

Written by

Alma Bahman is a certified yoga teacher registered with the Yoga Alliance. She completed 200-hour yoga teacher training in November 2010. She has been practicing yoga since 2006 and running since 2008 but it wasn’t until she began her teacher training that she realized how intertwined yoga is with running. She plans to run her first marathon for her 26th birthday at the end of this year. Bahman is also a journalist, recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach, and will be pursuing her master’s degree later this year. Currently, she is assistant editor of Caring Magazine, a quarterly publication of The Salvation Army.

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