Each week smile in the sky will feature a different yoga pose and 5 physical health benefits and 5 mental health benefits related to it.
This week...crow pose [sanskrit translation: Bakasana: Bak (crow) asana (pose)]
Physical benefit: SHOULDER STRENGTH
Strong shoulders are a must to support the weight of the lower body in the pose. Ensure shoulders are away from the ears. Plank is good core and shoulder strength preparation for bakasana.
Mental benefit: SELF-CONFIDENCE (balance versus face plant!)
First time attempting crow? Chances are you’ll be nervous about making face to floor contact! Trying new things that scare you a little is a wonderful way to build confidence in yourself.
Physical benefit: GROIN OPENING
Flexibility in the inner groin area is essential to allow the knees to come high up on the upper arm or in the armpit for the pose.
Mental benefit: SELF-TRUST
Taking the (very slow and cautious), lean forward can challenge our trust in ourselves to stay safe and without injury. Exploring a new challenge can serve to increase trust in ourselves and our abilities.
Physical benefit: PELVIC FLOOR STRENGTHENING
Engagement of the pelvic floor is central to lifting and flying your crow. Draw the area above the belly button in towards the spine and pull up on the anus and sexual organs. Please see here for 6 tips on getting into crow pose and more information about the bandhas. The two major bandhas most useful for this posture are mula bandha (the root lock) and uddiyana bandha (the upward flying lock).
Mental benefit: IMPROVED CONCENTRATION
Focusing your drishti (gaze), either on the breath (ideally), or on a point about 30 cm ahead of you on the ground, trains your brain in maintaining attention. This ‘transferable skill’ is highly useful in a multitude of situations including interactions with work colleagues, completing a major task or simply reading a book with conscious awareness.
Physical benefit: CHEST OPENING
The collarbones are wide, shoulder blades tracking down the back behind you as you open the chest to hold the pose. This allows fuller breathing and more stable balance.
Mental benefit: STABILITY
Feeling and experiencing the solid earth or floor beneath our mats with our hands is an unusual experience. It may allow us to feel more connected and more stable when faced with life’s challenges. Keeping a steady mind while breathing through any balance pose can improve our sense of stability both physically and emotionally and allow us to be more mindful.
Physical benefit: Finger/hand/wrist strength
The fingers are spread wide, pushing into the fingers and the inside of the thumb/first-finger area of the hands. This allows for an even distribution of weight as you balance and protects the wrists.
Mental benefit: SELF-MASTERY
Achieving and maintaining any arm balance requires awareness and the integration of body and mind. Measured breath and heightened awareness of the body limits the capacity of the mind to wander (which can result in sore noses in this pose!).
Yoga and psychology are about helping us to realize our full potential. With increased body and mind strength and flexibility, we are able to become more still yet adaptable in our balances even when unforseen events challenge us, both on and off the mat.
Stay tuned for next week - lizard pose [utthan pristhasana].