Dekasana (Airplane Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Dekasana (Airplane Pose) - SharpMuscle
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Dekasana, also known as Airplane Pose, strengthens the hips, arms, shoulders, and neck, while stretching the lower back, calf, hamstrings, shoulders.

Dekasana requires stability in the standing leg, engagement of the core muscles, and a steady gaze to maintain balance. Airplane Pose strengthens the legs, particularly the quadriceps and calves, while also improving core strength and stability. The asana also stretches the hip flexors and opens the chest, promoting flexibility and a sense of expansion in the body.

The Airplane Pose is not only a physical challenge but also cultivates focus, concentration, and mindfulness. It requires presence in the moment and a deep connection to the breath and body. As a balancing asana, Dekasana can help improve overall body awareness, coordination, and proprioception.

Information

Known as:Dekasana, Airplane Pose
Sanskrit name:देकासना
IAST:Dekāsana
Pronunciation:deh-ka-sa-na
Type:Balance, stretch, strength
Level:Intermediate
Focus:Legs , arms, shoulders
Total time:30 seconds to 1 minute
Drishti:Forward
Chakra:Root Chakra (Muladhara), Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana), Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura), Heart Chakra (Anahata), Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra)
Indications:Quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, arms, shoulders, neck, strength, glutes, lower back muscles, sciatica, spinal, abdominal muscular function, digestive system, reduce fat, stress, anxiety
Counterposes:Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Preparatory poses:Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III), High Lunge Pose (Alanasana), Chair Pose (Utkatasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Follow-up poses:Tree Pose (Vrksasana), Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II), Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Contraindications:High Blood Pressure; Suffering from back problems; Spondylitis

Benefits of Dekasana (Airplane Pose)

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits experienced may vary from person to person. Consistent and mindful practice, along with proper alignment and modifications as needed, can help practitioners maximize the benefits of Airplane Pose.

However, the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of Dekasana are listing below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the legs, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, arms, shoulders, and neck
  • Builds the endurance, strength, and stability for athletes, who use a lot of leg muscles
  • Improves the core strength, including the abdominals and back muscles
  • Improves abdominal muscular function since the emphasis is on exercising the core muscles
  • The production of internal heat improves the functioning of the digestive system
  • Stretching and internal heat generating help to reduce fat
  • Enhances spinal extension, improves the posture and spinal flexibility.
  • Contributes to alleviating stiffness or discomfort in the back and promoting a healthy spine
  • Stretches the hip flexors of the lifted leg
  • Enhances the hip flexibility and range of motion
  • Tones the entire body’s muscles
  • Massages the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles, which helps to avoid sciatica
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Mental and Emotional Benefits:

  • Cultivates the focus and concentration
  • Calm the mind
  • Promotes a sense of mental clarity
  • Enhance self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Promoting mindfulness and presence
  • Reduces the stress and anxiety
  • Energizes and invigorates the body

Dekasana (Airplane Pose) Practice Guide

Dekasana challenges balance, strength, and body awareness. In this asana, the practitioner stands on one leg with the other leg extended behind the body, parallel to the ground. The arms are typically stretched forward, resembling the wings of an airplane, giving the asana its name.

When practiced with proper alignment and awareness, Dekasana can be a rewarding pose that develops strength, balance, and mental clarity. This asana can be incorporated into a yoga sequence or practiced individually to enhance physical and mental well-being.

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), bringing the feet together and taking a few breaths. Stretch the spine upwards, while moving the shoulders back and pushing the chest forward.
  2. Inhale and bend both knees, keeping the arms close to your body at the sides. Inhale again and raise the right leg backwards in a complete stretch.
  3. Once the right leg is fully stretched behind you, extend the knee as far as possible and lock it. As you exhale, straighten the left leg, locking the left knee as well.
  4. Inhale once more and fully extend the right leg behind you, bringing it parallel to the floor and aligning it with your hips and the entire back.
  5. Exhale and continue stretching, maintaining close alignment of the arms to your body. Keep the head in line with your shoulders and gaze straight ahead.
  6. Ensure that the balancing leg is straight, and the foot is precisely facing forward at a 90-degree angle, while the arms remain close to your body.
  7. Engage the abdominal muscles, and begin slow, deep breathing, focusing your attention on the middle of the eyebrow to enhance balance and confidence.
  8. With each exhale, deepen the stretch by extending the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and legs further into the pose.
  9. The leg behind you should have the toes pointing downwards, with the shin and foot forming a 90-degree angle. Flex the ankles to keep the calves and hamstrings engaged.
  10. Hold the Airplane Pose for approximately four breaths. Inhale and release, returning to standing in Tadasana. Take a few breaths here to relax.
  11. Inhale and bend the knees, then exhale and stretch the left leg behind you to transition into Dekasana with the opposite leg. Follow the same instructions and hold for about four breaths.
  12. Relax and return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Repeat this pose two more times to ensure proper alignment and cultivate awareness.
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Common Mistakes

Common mistakes in the Airplane Pose can compromise proper alignment and potentially lead to discomfort or injury. With proper alignment in the practice, individuals can enhance the effectiveness and safety of Dekasana, leading to a more fulfilling and beneficial asana experience.

1. Rounded or hunched back

Allowing the back to round or hunch forward in Airplane Pose can strain the spine and diminish the benefits of the asana. It can lead to compression in the lower back and compromise stability. To avoid this mistake, focus on lengthening the spine and keeping it in a neutral position. Engage the core muscles to support the back and maintain a straight, extended spine throughout the asana.

2. Collapsed chest and shoulders

Allowing the chest to collapse or the shoulders to roll forward can limit the expansion of the chest and compromise the opening of the upper body. This can restrict breathing and disrupt the flow of energy in the asana. To prevent this mistake, actively draw the shoulders back and down, opening the chest and maintaining a broad and lifted posture.

3. Unbalanced weight distribution

Placing excessive weight on the toes, heels, or outer edges of the feet can throw off the balance and stability in Dekasana. This can lead to wobbling or falling out of the asana. To avoid this mistake, distribute the weight evenly across the entire foot, grounding through the four corners of the feet. Engage the leg muscles and maintain a strong foundation throughout the asana.

4. Locked or hyperextended knees

Locking or hyperextending the knees in Airplane Pose can strain the joint and potentially lead to injury. It can also hinder proper muscle engagement and stability. To prevent this mistake, maintain a micro-bend in the knees, allowing them to remain soft and slightly flexed. This protects the joint, engages the leg muscles, and supports better alignment.

5. Straining the neck

Forcing the head to drop too low or excessively tilting it upward can strain the neck and create discomfort. It can also affect balance and concentration. To avoid this mistake, maintain a neutral position of the head and neck, aligning them with the rest of the spine. Keep the gaze focused slightly ahead or, if needed, lift the head slightly to find a comfortable position.

6. Holding the breath

Holding the breath or shallow breathing during Dekasana can hinder relaxation, stability, and focus. It can restrict the flow of oxygen and create unnecessary tension in the body. To prevent this mistake, maintain a steady and deep breath throughout the asana. Coordinate the breath with the movements, inhaling during preparatory actions and exhaling during the extension and holding of the asana.

Modifications and Variations

The modifications and variations cater to different levels of practice, address specific limitations, and provide additional support or challenge as needed. They allow practitioners to personalize their practice, making it more accessible and enjoyable while maintaining safety and alignment.

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The modifications and variations of Dekasana (Airplane Pose) are explaining below:

  1. Practicing next to a wall: This modification is helpful for individuals with weak balance or those who are new to the asana. Standing close to a wall provides a support system if needed. It can be reassuring and help build confidence while maintaining stability. Being close to the wall allows the side body or hand to lightly touch the wall for additional support if necessary.
  2. Using a strap: For individuals who struggle with keeping the lifted leg straight and parallel to the ground, using a strap can be beneficial. Looping a strap around the balls of the feet and holding the ends with both hands provides support and assists in maintaining proper leg alignment. It helps to lengthen the leg and prevents it from drifting out of position. Using a strap also allows for better control of the leg, which can improve stability and enhance the overall experience of the asana.
  3. Spreading the arms sideways: Instead of keeping the arms beside the body, spreading them sideways with fingers spread wide can provide additional stability and engagement. This variation offers a wider base of support and activates the muscles in the arms and shoulders. It can enhance the overall balance and strength in the asana.
  4. Using a yoga block: Placing a yoga block on its tallest setting and resting the hands on it provides extra support for individuals who want to focus on improving their balance in Airplane Pose. The block offers a stable foundation and helps individuals find their center of gravity. It can be particularly helpful for beginners or those who are working on building strength and stability in the pose. As stability improves, the use of the block can be gradually reduced or eliminated.

Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications of Airplane Pose are explaining below:

1. High Blood Pressure

Practitioners with high blood pressure should approach the Dekasana with caution. This asana involves a forward bend, which can potentially increase blood pressure in the head and upper body. Holding the head in a downward gaze can also cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure should consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga teacher/instructor to determine if this asana is suitable for their condition. Modifications, such as keeping the head lifted and avoiding deep forward bends, may be recommended to ensure safety.

2. Back Problems

Airplane Pose requires significant engagement of the back muscles and can put strain on the spine. Individuals with existing back problems, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or chronic back pain, should exercise caution or avoid this asana altogether. The forward bend and balancing aspects of the asana can exacerbate existing back issues. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor/teacher, who can provide appropriate modifications or alternative asanas to protect the back and prevent further injury.

3. Spondylitis

Spondylitis refers to inflammation in the spinal joints. Individuals with spondylitis should approach the Dekasana cautiously, as it involves spinal extension and balance. The asana may put additional stress on the affected joints, potentially exacerbating pain and discomfort. Modifications or alternative asanas that provide spinal support and minimize strain should be explored under the guidance of a healthcare professional or knowledgeable yoga instructor/teacher.

4. Difficulty looking down and dizziness

Some individuals may experience discomfort or dizziness when looking downward or inverting the head. Airplane Pose involves a downward gaze, which can be challenging for those who have a sensitivity or difficulty with this position. These individuals may feel dizzy or lightheaded when performing the asana. In such cases, modifications can be made, such as keeping the head lifted or focusing the gaze straight ahead. It is crucial to listen to your body, honor your limitations, and consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor/teacher to determine suitable modifications or alternative asanas.

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