How to move into Crow Pose, Kakasana. From a low squat, Malasana Pose, bring the palms wider than hip-width distance apart. Spread the fingers wide, and press down through the finger pads so that the knuckles are slightly lifted (even the fingers are active and alive).
Gaze forward and rest the shins on the upper arms (triceps) so the legs come out like a frog. Shift the weight forward and try lifting one foot and then the other, or perhaps both at the same time. Option to use a block under the head for support. In Crow Pose, keep the elbows bent, keep the hips low and the spread the knees wide. Perhaps one day, you can lift both feet and take flight like a crow.
How to move into Crane Pose, Bakasana. From a forward fold, bring the palms to a hip-width distance apart. Spread the fingers wide and press the finger pads down into the ground so that the knuckles slightly lift off of the ground. Bend the elbows and place the knees as high up into the armpits as possible. You may find that placing the knees in between the muscles of the arms may help you to find stability.
Gaze forward and round the spine. (Note, if you gaze down, your energy will follow and you may fall. Instead, keep the gaze and energy moving forward). Draw the low-belly in towards the spine and squeeze the inner thighs together. Hug the energy in towards the mid-line of the body. Lift one leg and then the other, or perhaps both at the same time. Bring the big toes in towards each other. Lift the hips and the toes away from the ground. Lift the pelvic floor up and in. Here you are flying in Crane Pose. Work to straighten the arms, this takes time and patience.
Option to use a block under the head for support to better balance, or use a block to work on strengthening the core by further lifting the hips and feet higher. As you work to lift the feet and hips higher, it becomes easier to float or jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana. (We will save instructions for jumping back into Chaturanga on a different day).
Stay and breathe in either pose for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Work to maintain a balance of ease and effort in the pose by using the breath to find the element of "softness". Arm balances like Crow and Crane take strength, determination and flexibility. The breath is a determining factor to whether or not we have found the delicate balance of ease and effort in every pose. We could ask ourselves these questions as we practice. Where is the attention and focus as the poses become more challenging? Are we present? Is the breath labored or flowing freely? Do our inhales match the length of our exhales and is the breath expansive or shallow?
Slowly and mindfully come out and lower into Child's Pose, Balasana. Stay here and allow the breath to calm and the mind to settle. Notice how you feel. Acknowledge your efforts. Release any negative self-dialogue and work to be at peace with where you are at in your practice and in your life.
Learning the difference of the poses is a bit like progressing in our yoga practice. As we continue to build strength and awareness, we begin to refine, align and become more attuned to the subtleties of the body and mind. When we make the slightest adjustments in Crane or Crow, we can potentially find balance, or lose our balance as we become more attuned to the mental, physical and spiritual body.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques.
Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga
Christi Iacono is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor, kids yoga instructor, and owner of In Rhythms Yoga. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. She guides adults, kids and families in the ancient tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her daily personal practice. She is passionate about sharing her experience, inspiration, and dedication with her students. She is committed to being a life-long student and teacher of the practice. Christi carefully works with each student in order to find the variation that best serves their body. Work to find the balance of effort and ease in every posture, "sthira sukham asanam." Yoga is accessible to all.
*IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.
*Christi teaches adult, family, kids yoga and private lessons. Contact her for more info. on how to share the benefits of yoga to your kids and family.
*Join us for a Special Full, Restorative Blue Moon class on Friday, July 31st, 5:30-6:45 pm.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and for a more natural and healthy environment for her family and in the studio. Visit http://www.apothecarysociety.com/ciacono to learn more.
*Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.