Eka Pada Bakasana I, also known as One-legged Crane Pose I, is an asymmetrical arm-balancing yoga pose and part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga.
In this Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I) your one hip flex and other extend. The knee of your rear leg also extends, shifting the center of gravity back. Flex your trunk forward to balance the momentum of your back leg.
Note that the main flexor of your forward hip, your psoas, is in a position of active insufficiency. This means that your muscle is already fully contracted, so it cannot generate much additional force to flex your hip. In this situation, the adductor muscles of your bent leg squeeze the inside of your thigh against your upper arm and lever your hip into flexion. Your leg tucking up onto your arm combined with the force of your elbow extending creates a focus for balance. Co-contraction of your muscles that hold this position (the muscles of your chest, arm, hip, and leg) is a subplot of the pose that contributes to the whole.
Your straight leg is another story. Lifting your leg requires activating your back extensors, gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. Your back muscles and ligaments tether the pelvis. The pelvis connects to your gluteal muscles, lifting and rotating the thigh. The quadriceps extend your knee, while the fascia lata, with its contributions from your gluteus maximus and tensor fascia lata, stabilize your knee. Your ankle acts as an aileron (or a wing) to create subtle shifts in the center of gravity by flexing and everting, opening the sole of your foot. Both legs combine to create the main story of the pose—a balance of your muscular, ligamentous, and gravitational forces.
|Known as:||Eka Pada Bakasana I, One-legged Crane Pose I, One Foot Crane I, One Foot Crow Pose I|
|Sanskrit name:||एक पाद बकासन|
|IAST:||Eka Pāda Bakāsana|
|Pronunciation:||EHK-aah PAH-duh bahk-AHS-anna|
|Type:||Arm balance pose, Inversion, Prone|
|Total time:||Up to 30 second|
|Drishti:||Down and forward toward fingertips|
|Focus:||Arm, core, spine|
|Indications:||Nervous and endocrine system; digestive disorders (constipation, bloating, and irregular bowel movements), calcium absorption|
|Preparatory poses:||Sage Kaundinya’s pose, Crane Pose, Seated Twist Pose|
|Follow-up poses:||Downward Facing Dog Pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, Phalakasana|
|Contraindications:||Wrist, elbows, shoulder, neck, or knees injury, pregnant women, high blood pressure|
Meaning + Origin
The name Eka Pada Bakasana came from the Sanskrit name of four words — Eka + Pada + Baka + Asana:
- “Eka” = “one”
- “Pada” = “leg or foot”
- “Baka” = “crane”
- “Asana” = “pose or posture”
Eka Pada Bakasana I, because in the final shape of this yoga asana, one leg is extended in the air almost at a level with the floor, hence its name. In this yoga asana, the body resembles a one-legged stil or meditative crane.
The Crane bird represents peace, creativity and good luck in many cultures and traditions. Here, the practice of “One-legged Crane Pose I” without any activity signifies calmness, and the way this pose is oriented keeps creativity alive. Therefore, it brings good luck in terms of health for the practitioners.
The Crane bird is one of those birds that are found in a wide variety of habitats. This approximates their tendency to deal with different physical situations. Therefore, Eka Pada Bakasana I prepare practitioners in such a way that they perform well in life or in challenging asana practice.
Benefits of Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I)
The upright position of this yoga pose guides your body with relaxation and tranquility. It helps in building your physical and emotional framework, which ultimately provokes your spiritual belonging. With the practice of proper alignment Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I) you will get following benefits:
- Strengthens wrists, forearms and shoulders
- Stabilizes major muscles such as pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominis and external obliqueness
- Opens the hips and groin
- Strong peristalsis (muscle contraction in the digestive system) stimulates movement
- Improve blood circulation
- Soothes the nervous system
- Improvement in neurological and neuromuscular functioning
- Increases calcium absorption
- Activate navel chakra
- Improves concentration
- Relief from stress and anxiety as well as headaches and depression
- Promotes the confidence, power and control
- Corrects abnormal breathing patterns by facilitating bronchodilation
- Improves digestive disorders like: constipation, bloating, irregular bowel movements
Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I) Instructions, Anatomy Engaging Tips and Tricks
This intermediate level yoga pose helps boost energy in your body. For performing this yoga pose requires strength in your wrist and shoulder to hold the pose even for a while.
- To start, follow the same steps as for Bakasana. You may also use the preparatory stretches for Monkey Pose (Forward split pose, or Hanumanasana) to gain flexibility in your hips for this pose.
- From the hands and knees position, lift your one leg to get a sense for how it feels to extend out through your foot. Focus on the muscles at the back of your leg, buttocks, and lower back.
- Then use a pair of blocks or come directly off the floor to move into Crane Pose. Begin to take the pressure off your leg that you will extend, and shift the weight onto your other arm, squeezing that knee and inner thigh tighter against your arm.
- Lean forward as you straighten your back leg, contracting your buttocks and quadriceps to extend your hip and straighten your knee. Arch your lower back.
- Anticipate the change in balance and brace yourself to reverse these process to come out of this posture.
- Bend your knee and tuck it back onto your upper arm. Create balance between the two sides in Crane Pose.
- After that ease out by tilting backwards and down onto your toes. Flatten your feet and take a relaxed Standing Forward Bend Pose for a moment or two. Then engage your hip and back extensors to stand up.
Anatomy Engaging Tips and Tricks
- Use your arms muscles to create a scaffolding to hold your body up. Your torso leans forward to balance your weight of the straight leg, which extends back.
- Use the flexors of wrist to fine tune the forward tilt of your body. Engage your pronators teres and quadratus to pronate your forearms, pressing your mounds at the base of the index fingers into the floor.
- Then spread your weight evenly across your palms by co-activating your biceps and supinator muscles. Externally rotate your shoulders by contracting your infraspinatus, teres minor, and your posterior third of the deltoids.
- Attempt to straighten your arms. This engages your triceps and stabilizes your elbows.
- Squeeze your inner thigh of the flexed hip against the arm to brace your elbow, at the same time resisting by pressing your arm against the inner leg. These opposing forces create a bandha.
- Lift your body up by activating the front and lateral thirds of your deltoids. These are the same muscles that contract when you lift the weight over your head.
- Contract your serratus anterior and pectoralis minor muscles to abduct your shoulder blades away from the spine.
- Draw the humeri toward the midline to align your upper and lower arms, so that your bones support your body weight as much as possible. Your pectoralis major is the prime mover of this action; it also aids your deltoids in lifting your body. Your latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles synergize drawing your arms toward the midline. The coracobrachialis of your upper arm synergizes this action. The teres minor and infraspinatus of your rotator cuff externally rotate the humeri.
- All these actions work together to stabilize your shoulders and arms — the foundation of Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I).
- Contract your rectus abdominis to lift your abdominal contents up toward your spine. This muscle attaches to your public symphysis. Activating it draws your pubic symphysis upwards, tilting your pelvis into retroversion. This synergizes the action of your straight-leg gluteus maximus and hamstrings, which also retrovert your pelvis.
- Engage your psoas and quadratus lumborum to flex your hip and slightly arch your lower back. This tilts your pelvis forward, countering the actions the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. These opposing forces stabilize your core. Contract your adductor muscles group and your pectineus to indirectly flex the hip by drawing your inner thigh tight against the upper-arm.
- Engage your hamstrings to flex the knee and tuck it high on your supporting arm. A cue for this is to squeeze your lower leg against your thigh.
- Flex your trunk and hip to engage your psoas. Visualize your gluteus minimus on the side of the hip activating to synergize your psoas for hip flexion.
- Link the muscles of your posterior kinetic chain by connecting your straight-leg hamstrings, adductor magnus, and gluteus maximus to your erector spinae and quadratus lumborum.
- Use your lower back muscles to assist in lifting your leg from the top of the pelvis.
- Engage your gluteus maximus to extend your hip and thigh. Your hamstrings and adductor magnus run from your ischial tuberosities to the region of your knee. Contracting them extends your femur by pulling up on your leg near your knee. Your adductor magnus also draws the leg towards the midline, preventing it from drifting outward.
- Contract your quadriceps to straighten your back leg. Note that this thigh will roll outward somewhat due to your gluteus maximus engaging to extend the hip. A secondary action of this muscle is external rotation of your thigh. Counter this by activating your gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata, so that your leg turns inward, bringing the kneecap back to neutral. A cue for this is to imagine pressing your outer edge of the back foot against an immovable object.
- Resist abducting your leg while allowing your thigh to rotate internally. Your tensor fascia lata also assists your quadriceps in stabilizing the knee.
- Activate your gastrocnemius or soleus complex, peronei, tibialis posterior, and flexors digitorum and hallucis to point your foot. Feel how this side story in this pose creates length in the front of your lower leg, stretching your tibialis anterior.
Precautions and Contraindications
Contraindications and precautionary points should be kept in mind while performing Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I), as follow:
- Individuals should not be performed this yoga pose with an injury to their wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck and knees.
- Pregnant women, high blood pressure patients should not do Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I).
- While doing this yoga asana, you will experience a sudden flow of blood on your head. So, a person suffering from migraine should avoid this yoga asana.
- If you are suffering from disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome or spondylitis, do not do this asana.
- While doing Eka Pada Bakasana I (One-legged Crane Pose I), do not wear slippery clothes like silk cloth in this posture. Since these clothes are slippery, they can cause problems by bending your knees.