Friday, October 5, 2012

Bakasana or "Crow Pose"

Sanskrit: Bakasana                                    Western Term: Crow or Crane (with straight arms) Pose

Origin of Word Baka = a crane. The pose imitates the shape of a bird, using the arms as the legs.

Type of Asana: Balancing Pose

How To:
1.     Start standing in Tadasana (mountain pose, standing tall with feet parallel or ankle bones touching-for this bone it is better if ankles bones are teaching and feet are together).
2.     Bend over, so that hands are in front of feet down folding into utanasana (forward bend) with a flat back.
3.     Bend the knees and elbows to the side. Lean forward taking the head and chest down. Kneel bringing the knees up towards one’s armpits, keeping the legs on the outside of the arms. Plant the palms of the hands firmly on the floor spreading the fingers.
4.     Engage your core, come onto the balls of the feet, keeping the gaze (or drishti) on the floor in front of you for balance. Lift one foot at a time, find balance on the palms of the hands and keeping the feet together or crossing them at the ankle.
5.     Work towards completely straightening the arms while balancing (which is a more advanced version of the pose referred to as crane pose). Hold for about 5 breaths.

Above is an incredibly dorky picture of me in crow pose in Argentina. I had to wear the weird earmuff headband because it was freezing. And they looked less bad hanging there on the rack in the market where me and my best friend, Katie, found them.

Body Points:
* Keep the feet lifted and do not let the legs slip down
*Keep the back rounded and contract in the abs (engaging uddiyana bandha-an upward abdominal lock)
*Keep the upper arms stretching and lengthening

 Emphasized Body Parts: core, arms-especially strengthens wrists, shoulders, neck, and forearms. It also kick starts your respiratory system into proper function and massages the organs of the abdomen. It even has healing qualities for those with diabetes.
Practice crow pose enough and you could end up looking like Marge Simpson on steroids.

Okay maybe not that extreme…but it will increase your muscle definition.
Mental Achievements: Increases both mental and physical balance, concentration, trust, and tranquility
An aid for beginners: kramas or levels of a pose give us yogis with various levels options. For any given pose, there are various levels of difficulty. This krama that I offer is for beginners to the pose: start by practicing balancing on the palms of the hands using a block. Learn to balance on the block and feel the lightness in the pose before fully straightening the arms. Also place a blanket in front of your hands, just in case you tip over onto your head.

For advanced practitioners: To add some heat to the pose (if for some inexplicable reason it is lacking-and more power to you), try moving from sirsasana or tripod headstand into bakasana or crow pose. You should definitely be feeling some heat moving in between these two poses.

Chakra: The root chakra or muladhara chakra  focuses on security and stability.

This chakra is a red-four-petaled lotus located at the base of the spine. This chakra helps you build a solid foundation. The seed sound or bija mantra of this chakra is “Iam” which helps unlock the secrets of the earth.

Element: Earth

Ancient Sanskrit Proverb: “Regular exercise gives you good health, longevity, strength, and happiness. Health is the biggest wealth. It is the key to every success.”

*Do not do this pose if pregnant or carpel tunnel syndrome*

Continue connecting to your root chakra with hearty root vegetables. They’re delicious, filling, but don’t make you feel weighed down after eating. Here is a recipe that Jasper, my boyfriend, and I whipped up. As he put it: “You (Chauncey) create the healthy half of the meal and I (Jasper) make the fattier, slightly less healthy, part of our feast.” Eloquent and to the point-that’s my boyfriend J Jasper made home fries with onions and peppers. I made a big green salad. Here are our quick and rather healthy (even Jasper’s home fries) recipes:

Ingredients for Jasp’s home fries: potatoes, red pepper (or green or yellow if you like), onion, coconut oil, salt, pepper
1.     Chop potatoes (about 2-3), red peppers (1/2), and onion (3/4)
2.     Add coconut oil (a healthier option than olive oil) to frying pan and sauté potatoes, onion, and peppers until potatoes are golden brown
3.     Add salt and pepper as liked. Option to add ketchup or hot sauce too!

Ingredients for ChaCha’s Salad: organic spring mix lettuce, red pepper, red onion, carrot, sundried tomatoes, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, Spanish almonds, croutons, feta cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grey poupon mustard, salt, pepper
1.     Chop red peppers (1/2), red onion (1/2), sundried tomatoes (5-6), avocado (1), tomato (1), broccoli (1/2 a head of broccoli), carrots (8-10 baby carrots)
2.     Wash spring mix lettuce
3.     Place lettuce and chopped veggies in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle feta cheese, Spanish almonds, and croutons as preferred.
4.     Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and grey poupon with salt and pepper in a small bowl for vinagrette
5.     Drizzle dressing over salad and toss ingredients. Enjoy! (Even Jasper, Mr. Meat-Eater, liked this veggie delight)

Take flight crows!

And have a good weekend!


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