Anyone who practices yoga knows their individual yoga practice is a work in progress. Think about it…aren’t we works in progress? Isnt life a work in progress? As I grow older I go through changes physically, emotionally and mentally. However, they have become changes I learn to love. I think yoga helps me embrace the time I dedicate to my inner self, and even helps me embrace the changes in my body.
When I thought about which pose is my next favorite pose, the crane pose immediately popped to the front of my brain. I instantly thought about a pose I struggled with the most when I first started my yoga practice. This was the one pose I was so determined to accomplish. I researched it as much as I could as well as watching “You Tube” tutorials before trying it. I tried so many, many times, but I was determined and there was no way I was going to give up.
Then, it happened…I was in a yoga class one Saturday morning, and the instructor began to cue us for the crane pose. I focused on my breath along with her cues, and as I did, I progressed right up into my crane, holding it for about 10 seconds. When I came down, I was elated. As my mind took me back to the first time I tried the crane, I could not help but remember all the nights I practiced.
The sanskrit word for the crane pose is bakasana (bahk-AHS-anna) with “baka” meaning crane. Here are a few points I try to remember when take flight into the crane pose.
1. First, I come into the squatter’s pose, and I place my hands in front of me on the mat directly under my shoulders so to stack the joints. My knees bow out to the side just behind my shoulders.
2. Next, I lift my hips and sitting bones upward finding my weight centered on my hands, arms and toe tips. Here the elbows will bend looking straight back to the wall behind me. Refrain from allowing the elbows to bend out to the side. As they bend, myupper body will want to move forward a little. So I go with this. I set my gaze, or drishti, about 6 inches or so above the fingertips.
3. Once in a comfortable position, I arch the lower back pointing my sitting bones toward the mat. This position can also be described as the cat position in yoga. Before I lift off removing my feet from the floor, I take a deep breath.
4. A very important step is engaging my core, so before I lift off into crane, I pull my belly button as far back into my spine as I can. I continue this engagement the entire time I am balanced in crane. Using the core is very important in any yoga practice.
5. Engaging my knees before lift off is important as well. Along with my core, I continue to pull the knees towards my shoulders squeezing my inner thighs alongside my ribs, lifting, lifting, lifting.
5. When my body is ready, I inhale and slowly lift my big toes off the mat centering my weight throughout my body, distributing the weight as evenly as possible into my hands, shoulders, core (or center), hips, thighs and toes. As I balance, I am squeezing or engaging all these areas, as well as lifting my knees as stated in the previous step. It also helps me to point my toes towards each other while balancing.
6. Breathing deep as I match the length of the inhalation with my exhalation. I strive to work towards a 4-6 count breath.
In the crane pose, I feel my entire body is engaged, and that is exactly what I am trying to do. Yoga is not about isolation, and only having your arms do all the work. As for me, it is about listening to my body and not forcing one area of my body to be responsible for all my weight. I feel this is how injuries occur. Listening to my body is an important part of my practice…this could also be considered a progression of self-trust.
I think the solid point of my entry today is to be open to progression no matter how hard it may be or how foreign it might feel. Continuing to practice yoga is a steady and right progression for me, my mind and my spirit. Practicing is progression. Setting my intentions into action is progression.