Most people believe that they need super human strength and core power to do arm balances.
Of course we do need strength and core stability, but learning the where to shift your weight and when to engage your strength is the secret to these transitions. In this video YogaWorks Teacher Trainer and MyYogaWorks teacher, Jesse Schein will breakdown Bakasana (Crow Pose) and demonstrate the key actions that will help you find the transition from Bakasana to Tripod Headstand.
Bakasana Set Up
Whether she’s leading a YogaWorks teacher training or teaching in a MyYogaWorks video, Jesse always teaches from the foundation up because what’s happening on the floor where the weight is being borne will be reflected through the whole posture. First we begin with setting up Bakasana. (As a side note, this type of transition would generally be at the peak of one’s practice, so be sure that you have already warmed up your body before doing these poses.)
Start in a standing forward fold with legs straight or slightly bent. Hands on the mat shoulder distance apart, palms flat. Bring the feet together, come to the balls of your feet, and open your knees. Bend your arms, keep the forearms firming into the midline to protect the wrists, and bring your knees as high up on your arms as you can. Look forward.
Shift your weight forward. Shift more weight into your hands. Resist the elbows from splaying out. Tuck the belly in and bring one foot off the floor, firm the forearm in and slowly lift the other foot up firming that forearm in. Shift the weight forward into the hands, firm the arms in and spread the toes.
You can start to straighten the arms and lift the knees as high as you can up the arm. Squeeze the heels to the butt and look forward, sternum forward. Legs back jump into Chaturanga and take a Vinyasa.
Very importantly when we are setting up Tripod Headstand we want to protect the wrists and the neck. Think of your set up as an Isosceles Triangle. When you place the hands flat, between the hands is the bottom of the triangle. The top of the head is an equal distance away from the hands at the top of the triangle. The elbows are over the wrists and in alignment with your shoulders. Curl your toes. Lift your hips. Continue to lift your shoulders like Chaturanga and walk your feet in. Lifting the shoulders will take the weight off the head and protect the neck. Place one knee onto the upper arm. Firm the forearm in. Place the other knee on the upper arm. Use the belly. Firm the forearms in. The weight is in the hands.
Putting Them Together
Begin to shift the weight into the heels of the hands. Keep the shoulders lifted. Firm the forearms in. Now, begin to get the head light. Very light still firming in and begin to guide the head forward, looking forward. Notice that the arms are still in Chaturanga position. Then, press the whole hand, including the fingertips. Begin to round the spine as you straighten your arms. Squeeze the heels into the butt, draw the chest forward and jump back to Chaturanga and take a Vinyasa.
For students who have elbows that splay wider than the shoulders, you can offer them a strap to place above their elbows and teach the actions of firming into the midline by trying to make the strap loose. If you need help with Tripod Headstand you can always practice this pose against a wall before moving to the middle of the room for this transition.
The areas to pay close attention to are the neck and the wrists. When the elbows splay wider than shoulder distance apart there is a lot of congestion that can accumulate around the neck and weight becomes heavy on the head which we don’t want. Ensure also that the wrists are parallel and underneath the elbows so that you are not compressing the nerves around the wrists.
We hope you enjoy this educational video, brought to you by MyYogaWorks.com.