Eka Pada Bakasana, One Legged Crow Pose

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Genevieve Oswald in Eka Pada Bakasana, by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

With all things done repetitively, over time one’s capacity to do them increases. This is most definitely true for the class of poses known as hand balances in the hatha yoga practice.

Crow pose is commonly performed with both shins resting upon the upper arms, same leg to arm respectively. Once the basic variation of the pose has been mastered, to a degree, the invitation to explore a larger range of motion expands. From crow to headstand, or handstand, or the numerous variations of one-legged crow, the multitude of forms one can expand into from the basic posture seem almost limitless.

However, in order to accomplish any hand-balancing posture one has to be willing to fall on their face — this is a prerequisite. From the willingness to fail will arise the courage to try, and eventually, the satisfaction of successful weightless flight.

To begin, squat with your feet together and knees wide. Inhale to place your hands like down dog or chaturanga dandasana hands, hugging your knees into your armpits. With another inhale, lift your hips away from the floor as you extend your heart and gaze boldly forward. Fill into your back body with breath, as if you were filling a hot air balloon, and draw deeply into your midline as you spread your toes and float one foot at a time, or both feet together, off of the floor.

Continue to lean forward with courage as you fill ever more buoyantly into your back body. Exhale to press down with your left shin into your left upper arm and lift off from your right upper arm, extending your right leg into the air behind you. Draw into your innate strength, breath, smile, enjoy.

Repeat on the second side.