Build Core Strength for Challenge Poses with Bakasana Toe Taps

Article by LIZ ARCH | Featured on Yoga Journal

Bakasana (Crane Pose) was the first arm balance I ever learned and I still remember the feeling of excitement and empowerment when my feet hovered off the ground for the first time. It was a magical moment that made me realize I was so much stronger and more capable than I ever gave myself credit for. As the foundation for so many other arm balances, this single pose opened me up to an entirely new world of strength and balance.

If you’ve mastered Bakasana and are ready to take your arm balance practice to the next level, try incorporating these Bakasana toe taps into your routine. This playful twist on a classic arm balance will blast your core and build incredible strength to prep you for more challenging transitions and variations, including eventually pressing up from Bakasana to Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand).

Try It: Bakasana
Enter Bakasana by starting in a low squat on the balls of your feet with big toe mounds touching. Separate your knees and plant your palms shoulder-width distance apart inside of your knees. Spread your fingers wide and root down through your thumb and index finger. Activate Hasta Bandha, or the power of your hands, by creating an upward lift (visualize a suction cup action) through the center of your palm. Lift your hips toward the sky as you rise up as high as you can onto the balls of your feet. Perch your knees onto the backs of your arms, snuggling them as high as you can toward your armpits. Keep a gentle bend in the elbows as the triceps wrap back. On an exhalation, shift your shoulders slightly forward past your wrists, press down actively into the floor through your hands, round your upper back, engage your abdominals, and lift your feet off the floor. Bring your big toes to touch as your heels draw up toward your butt.

Add the Toe Tap
Take a moment to breathe and find your center. On your next inhalation, slowly lower your right foot down toward your right wrist. Keep your lower belly actively lifting and your arms hugging in toward each other. Flex your foot and lightly tap your wrist with your toes. On an exhalation draw your right foot back up into Bakasana. Repeat the same sequence on the left side. For the third round, challenge yourself by trying to tap both feet to both wrists at the same time. Use a strong exhalation to draw both feet back up into the arm balance—big toes touching and heels actively lifting toward the butt. The key is to keep rooting down actively through your arms, rounding the upper back recruiting the strength of your pectorals, while the energy of the belly and hips rise up. Release into a squat after your third round and rest.

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