Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Rooster Posture): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Urdhva Kukkutasana, Upward Rooster Posture, Padma Bakasana, Upward Facing Rooster Pose, Upward Cock Pose - SharpMuscle
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Urdhva Kukkutasana, also known as Upward Rooster Posture or Lotus Crane Pose, strengthens the arms, shoulders, wrist, and core muscles and tone the arms, shoulders, and upper back.

Information

Known as:Urdhva Kukkutasana, Upward Rooster Posture, Padma Bakasana, Upward Facing Rooster Pose, Upward Cock Pose, Lotus Crane Pose
Sanskrit name:ऊर्ध्व कुक्कुटासन;
पद्म बकासन
IAST:Ūrdhva Kukkuṭāsana;
Padmā Bakāsana
Pronunciation:oor-dh-vah kook-koo-taah-suhn-uh;
PUD-muh BAH-kah-suh-nuh
Level:Advanced
Type:Arm balance
Focus:Spine, arms
Total time:30 – 60 seconds or more
Drishti:Nasagra Drishti (at the tip of the nose)
Chakra:Manipura Chakra, Swadhisthana Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Sahasrara Chakra
Indications:Joints, elbows, shoulders, wrists, core muscles, arms, legs, concentration, balance, flexibility, hips, hamstrings, groin,
Counterposes:Balasana (Child’s Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Preparatory poses:Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Bakasana (Crow Pose), Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana), Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Navasana (Boat Pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose), Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Follow-up poses:Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Virasana (Hero Pose), Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Wrist or Shoulder Injuries, High blood pressure or Low Blood Pressure, Pregnancy, Recent Abdominal or Digestive Surgery, Neck Injuries or Conditions, Lack of Sufficient Upper Body Strength

Meaning

The name “Urdhva Kukkutasana” is derived from Sanskrit, which is made of three words – Urdhva + Kukkuta + Asana:

  1. Urdhva” = “upward” or “raised”
  2. Kukkuta” = “rooster” or “cock”
  3. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, the literal translation of Urdhva Kukkutasana is “Upward Cock Pose” or “Raised Rooster Pose.”

The pose is said to resemble a rooster with its chest puffed out, and the legs crossed like a rooster’s wings. It signifies a sense of strength, confidence, and upward energy. Urdhva Kukkutasana is an arm balance pose that requires balance, core strength, and focus.

In addition to its literal meaning, the pose holds symbolic interpretations within the context of yoga philosophy. The rooster is often associated with awakening, vitality, and the rising of the sun. Urdhva Kukkutasana can be seen as an embodiment of these qualities, representing the awakening and invigorating aspects of the practice. It encourages practitioners to cultivate strength, resilience, and a sense of upliftment both physically and energetically.

Benefits of Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Rooster Posture)

The physical and mental benefits of Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Cock Pose) are listed below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles
  • Builds strength in the arms and shoulders and tone the arms, shoulders, and upper back
  • Increase mobility and flexibility in the shoulders, wrists, and upper back, enhancing overall upper body flexibility
  • Enhance the balance and coordination skills
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Mental Benefits:

  • Cultivates mental focus, clarity, and presence, calming the mind and promoting mindfulness
  • Builds confidence and a sense of accomplishment
  • Boosts a harmonious integration of the physical and mental aspects of the practice, promoting a sense of unity and connection within oneself
  • Awakens the core energy centers (chakras) and promotes a sense of vitality, invigoration, and renewed energy flow throughout the body

Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Rooster Posture) Practice Guide

Urdhva Kukkutasana is typically practiced as part of Ashtanga Yoga after mastering the first and second series. In that context, the focus is on strength and flexibility. However, practicing this pose independently requires more strength, endurance, flexibility, and focus.

Here are step-by-step instructions for Urdhva Kukkutasana:

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Warm up the body by performing a few rounds of Surya Namaskar B (Sun Salutation B), which helps open the hips and arms.
  2. Sit at the center of the mat in Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose) and take eight slow, deep breaths.
  3. Transition to Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose) to open the neck and shoulder muscles and improve head flexibility. Hold this pose for about six breaths.
  4. Relax in Catur Svanasana (Dolphin Pose) for about four breaths.
  5. From Dolphin Pose, place the crown of your head on the floor, move the hips, and come onto your toes in Tripod Dolphin Pose. Hold this position for about four breaths to prepare for Sirsasana II (Headstand Pose II).
  6. While in Tripod Dolphin Pose, bring the palms to the floor with fingers pointing outward. Keep the elbows parallel, and balance the lower body on the toes.
  7. Inhale and raise the right leg, extending it upward. Then, inhale again and bring the left leg up, fully stretching into Sirsasana II. Use core and shoulder strength, as well as head strength, to maintain balance.
  8. Stay in Sirsasana II for two breaths, focusing on the breath and body balance.
  9. While maintaining balance, inhale and bend the right leg, placing the right ankle close to the upper left thigh. Exhale, pressing the ankles against the upper thigh, and straighten the right thigh. Inhale again and cross the left foot over the right leg, placing it at the hip joint close to the upper right thigh. Exhale and straighten the left thigh.
  10. Cross the legs to enter Sirsasana II Padmasana (Headstand Pose II in Lotus Pose). Exhale, press the thighs firmly together and stretch them back to align with the hips and chest. Smoothly crossing the legs requires practice, and it’s important to be comfortable with this practice before attempting this variation of Sirsasana II Padmasana.
  11. Stay in Sirsasana II Padmasana for about four breaths, cultivating confidence and awareness with slow, deep breathing.
  12. From this Padmasana variation, inhale, press the heels deep into the pelvis, and tighten the Lotus Pose. Gently move the hips to maintain balance.
  13. Exhale and bring the thighs toward the rib cage while pressing the heels closer to the hip joints. Maintain continuous breathing throughout this movement. Rest the crossed thighs on the upper arms, ensuring the weight of the body is evenly distributed among the hips, shoulders, arms, and head. Stay in this position for about four breaths, extending the hips and stretching the neck to avoid pressure on the crown.
  14. Exhale and use the elbows to support the thighs. Inhale, lift the head, draw the chest and shoulders backward, and tighten the arms and shoulders. Extend the arms to support the crossed legs in Padmasana. Gently bring the torso parallel to the floor and slightly gaze upward to find balance in Urdhva Kukkutasana.
  15. Stay in Urdhva Kukkutasana for about two breaths, focusing on the weight distribution of the body without straining the wrists and neck.
  16. To release from Urdhva Kukkutasana, gently lower the upper body toward the floor and place the crown of the head on the floor. Inhale, raise the legs back up to return to Sirsasana II Padmasana, and then inhale again to stretch the legs in Sirsasana II.
  17. Take a few breaths in Sirsasana II and slowly lower the legs to relax in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). It is crucial to practice crossing the legs in Padmasana without using the hands. Learning to balance the body on the head while transitioning between poses is also essential. Additionally, smoothly moving the torso up and down while balancing on the arms is important for a safe and fluid practice of Urdhva Kukkutasana.
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Common mistakes

Common mistakes in Urdhva Kukkutasana can impact the alignment, stability, and safety of the pose. Understanding these mistakes can help you prevent them and ensure a more effective and safer your practice.

The common mistakes of Padma Bakasana are explained below:

  1. Lack of Core Engagement: Not engaging the core muscles sufficiently can compromise the stability and balance required for Upward Rooster Posture. The core muscles, including the abdominal muscles, play a crucial role in supporting the body in this arm balance. Without proper engagement, the pose may feel unstable or difficult to maintain.
  2. Improper Arm and Shoulder Alignment: Placing the hands too far apart or too close together, or allowing the shoulders to collapse or round forward, can strain the wrists and shoulders. It is essential to align the hands shoulder-width apart and maintain a strong and stable foundation through the arms and shoulders. This alignment distributes the weight evenly and prevents excessive strain on specific joints.
  3. Lack of Hip Opening and Leg Flexibility: The Upward Facing Rooster Pose requires a degree of hip opening and leg flexibility, especially in the groins and hamstrings. Insufficient flexibility can restrict the ability to cross the legs and achieve the desired position. It is important to gradually work on hip opening and leg flexibility through regular practice and appropriate preparatory poses.
  4. Inadequate Focus and Breath Control: Upward Cock Pose requires concentration, focus, and steady breathing. Neglecting to cultivate a calm and focused mind or holding the breath can disrupt the flow of the pose and diminish its benefits. By maintaining a steady breath and focused attention, practitioners can enhance their stability, balance, and overall experience in the pose.
  5. Relying Solely on Arm Strength: While arm strength is necessary for this yoga asana, solely relying on the strength of the arms can lead to strain and fatigue. It is essential to engage the core muscles, use the legs as support, and distribute the weight throughout the body. This balanced approach reduces the strain on the arms and allows for more sustainable and stable alignment.
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By being mindful of these common mistakes and working towards proper alignment, engagement, and balance, practitioners can enhance their experience and safety in yoga asana. It is advisable to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher/instructor, who can provide personalized instructions and adjustments to address individual challenges and ensure a safe practice.

Modifications and variations

Modifications and variations can make Urdhva Kukkutasana more accessible, adaptable, and challenging, depending on practitioners needs and abilities. However, the common modifications and variations are explained below:

Modifications:

  1. Supported Urdhva Kukkutasana: If balancing on the arms is challenging, a modification is to use yoga blocks or a bolster to provide support. Place the blocks or bolster under the shoulders or upper arms to create a stable foundation while practicing the leg positioning.
  2. One Leg at a Time: Instead of crossing both legs in Padmasana (Lotus Pose), practitioners can begin by crossing one leg at a time. This modification allows for gradual progress in developing flexibility and balance.
  3. Bent Legs: Rather than aiming for straight legs, practitioners can bend the knees slightly while in Urdhva Kukkutasana. This modification reduces strain on the hamstrings and can make the pose more accessible.

Variations:

  1. Eka Pada Urdhva Kukkutasana (One-Legged Upward Cock Pose): In this variation, one leg is extended upward while the other leg remains crossed in Padmasana. This variation challenges balance and core stability while providing an opportunity to deepen the stretch in the extended leg.
  2. Parivrtta Urdhva Kukkutasana (Revolved Upward Cock Pose): This variation involves twisting the torso while in Urdhva Kukkutasana. The practitioner can bring one elbow to the opposite knee or thigh, deepening the twist and engaging the oblique muscles.
  3. Dynamic Urdhva Kukkutasana: Instead of holding the pose statically, practitioners can explore dynamic movements. This can include lifting and lowering the legs, transitioning from Urdhva Kukkutasana to other arm balances, or incorporating flowing movements with the breath.

Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications in Upward Cock Pose are important to ensure the safety of practitioners. Understanding the precautions and contraindications can help you prevent injuries and provide guidance with specific conditions.

The common precautions and contraindications are explained below:

  1. Wrist or Shoulder Injuries: Urdhva Kukkutasana requires significant weight-bearing on the hands, wrists, and shoulders. Individuals with existing wrist or shoulder injuries or conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist sprains, or shoulder impingement, should exercise caution or avoid the pose altogether. Excessive strain on these areas can exacerbate the injuries or cause further discomfort.
  2. High or Low Blood Pressure: Urdhva Kukkutasana involves an inversion, which can affect blood pressure. Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension) should avoid or modify the pose. Inversions can potentially lead to a sudden increase or decrease in blood pressure, which may not be suitable for individuals with these conditions.
  3. Pregnancy: Urdhva Kukkutasana is not recommended during pregnancy. It involves significant abdominal engagement and pressure on the abdomen, which can be uncomfortable and potentially harmful to both the mother and the developing fetus. It is advisable for pregnant individuals to consult with their healthcare provider and seek appropriate prenatal modifications and alternatives.
  4. Recent Abdominal or Digestive Surgery: Individuals who have undergone recent abdominal or digestive surgery should avoid Urdhva Kukkutasana. The pose places strain on the abdominal area, which may hinder the healing process or cause discomfort in the surgical area. It is essential to allow adequate time for recovery and consult with a healthcare professional before engaging in such poses.
  5. Neck Injuries or Conditions: Urdhva Kukkutasana requires a degree of neck strength and stability. Individuals with neck injuries, such as cervical disc issues or chronic neck pain, should approach the pose with caution or avoid it altogether. Excessive strain on the neck can worsen the condition or lead to discomfort.
  6. Lack of Sufficient Upper Body Strength: Urdhva Kukkutasana demands substantial upper body strength, particularly in the arms, shoulders, and core. Practitioners who are not yet adequately strong in these areas may find it challenging to maintain the pose or risk overexertion. It is advisable to build sufficient strength through regular practice of preparatory poses and modifications before attempting the full expression of Urdhva Kukkutasana.

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