I chose a bird pose this month since my opening section featured the magic of feathers. I chose Crow Pose—sometimes referred to as Crane Pose—since crows are associated with magic (the theme of my newsletter), mysticism and mythology! See the possible spiritual benefits of the Crow and the Crane at the end of this section.
- Strengthens hands, wrists, arms, elbow joints, shoulders
- Strengthens the abdominals and tones the abdominal organs
- Stretches Hip abductors, upper back
- Stretches and opens the groins
- Strengthens body/mind connection
- Stretches and lubricates the joints, tendons, and ligaments of the upper body
- Increases both physical and mental balance, concentration and tranquility
- Balances the nervous system
- Brings lightness to the body
- Prepares the mind for meditation
- Activates the solar plexus, third eye and crown chakras
- “Crow” and “Crane” as totems both activate the throat chakra—your communication chakra (see spiritual aspects below)
- “Crow” and “Crane” as totems both activate the sacral chakra—your creative energies. (see spiritual aspects below)
From mountain pose, forward fold and bring your hands to the floor as you bend your knees and turn your toes out slightly. Hug the back of the triceps (upper arms) with the inside of your upper shins. Keep your gaze forward with neck soft and abdominals strong. A forward gaze helps you keep your balance vs. drop forward. Stay rounded in the back (I’m still trying to master that!) as you tilt forward and lift onto the balls of the feet, hugging torso close so that your tailbone stays near your heels. Draw your inner groins deep into your pelvis as you slowly take more weight onto your arms and your feet leave the floor.
This pose is really easier than it looks! Remember to breathe! It’s so easy to forget and hold your breath while in balance!
Beginner’s tip: It helps you mentally to place a block or bolster in front of you for your head to have something to fall into as your practice—the floor doesn’t seem so far away! You can also try this pose in stages perhaps starting with no lift of the feet off the floor, then lift one foot at a time, alternating left then right, until you’re ready to fly! (Not shown)
- For wrist support, use a wedge or folded mat under the heels of the hand.
- Not ready to bend that far down? Stand with elbows pressed between the knees in an isometric hold. Knees push in while elbows push out. This will build strength in the arms and buttocks.
Advanced version or what I usually associate with “Crane/Bakasana pose”: Keeping elbows tucked in toward the body, work toward straightening your arms. Keep your inner knees glued to outside of arms high up near the armpits.
Side Note on Crane Pose: I love synchronicities. In today’s mail, after having completed this portion of my newsletter, I received the November issue of Yoga Journal featuring Jason Crandell in Bakasana (Crane Pose). I humbly present my asana to you knowing that I am still aiming toward Jason’s version as I listen to my own opening statements when new yoga students are present in my class: “There is no perfect pose. Every pose looks different on ‘every body’. That’s why they call it a yoga ‘practice’ and not a yoga ‘perfect’”. Someday, perhaps, I’ll get to Jason’s pose! Awesome! http://www.yogaglo.com/online-class-940-Bakasana-Tutorial.html
Possible Spiritual aspects of Crow pose: Just as with breathwork where you extend the exhalation and dwell in the space between the breaths, use crow pose to dwell in the space where balance is found. This pulls your concentration inward where there is no past or future, only the present. ~
Crows “have a unique ability to outwit most birds, animals, even humans at times, and they make for themselves a wonderful living. They and their other family member, the raven, have a great mysticism and mythology about them.”
Their striking black color with hints of deep blue or purple contributes to their allure. “Black is the color of creation. It is the womb out of which the new is born. It is also the color of the night. Black is the maternal color and thus black night gives birth to a new day. Although the crow is a diurnal or daytime bird, it reminds us that magic and creation are potentials very much alive during the day.
In Roman mythology crows and ravens were white until they delivered bad news to Apollo and were turned black. “This connection to watchfulness is still strong today. Crows always have a sentinel posted. They build their nests high in the treetops so that they can see the entire area in which they are living and feeding.” They’re here to remind us to be on the watch for magic and creation every day.
Their voice is another quality we all associate with the crow. This reflects their ability to warn. While most wouldn’t associate their voice as song, they are a member of the songbird family. Crow reminds us to sing our own song with no thought toward needing the approval of others. It is not by our doing that we are deemed “acceptable”. We are already acceptable by our very nature. We are all songbirds—each and every one—regardless. Accept that you are magical. Accept that you are here to create.
“Wherever crows are, there is magic. They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength. They remind us to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life. They are messengers to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us.”
Possible Spiritual aspects of Crane pose: A powerful Chinese symbol of justice and longevity. Being a bird of the water, crane teaches us to express your own feminine energies (Sacral chakra). Whooping crane has been a symbol of wildlife conservation. “If the crane has shown up in your life as a totem, it could very well reflect that you are about to recover what had almost become extinct within you.”—Perhaps the magic of the “real you”?
The crane lays two eggs but usually raises only one, reflecting the importance of undivided attention upon your primary goal. Like the voice of the crow, the loud “whooping” sound of the crane is an attribute we associate with the crane, “reminiscent of a primal celebration over birth. The crane can teach you how to celebrate your creative resources and keep them alive, regardless of the conditions in which they are manifest, both by simply having the proper focus in your life.”
Source: Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews.
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome or wrist injuries
- High Blood Pressure