How to get started with Bakasana

The Bakasana was the first arm balance I learned in yoga, and when I couldn’t get into the position the first time I tried it, I thought I’d never managed to do it. I couldn’t possibly understand how people could hold their whole body onto their arms without breaking them.

Every time I tried it, I’d end up with bruises on my forearms. Davidson would look at me like, “Are you sure you’re doing yoga?!”

Nevertheless, with perseverance and a lot of patience, I managed to hold my first Bakasana at the end of July. So it took me 3 months of consistent practice to finally build enough strength to hold the position for…. 3 seconds!

Later with more practice focusing only on this one asana, I was even able to hold it more than 30 seconds.

Here’s how I did it…

Drills

  • Cat and cow stretch: it helps to warm up your spine. Focus especially on the cat stretch (rounded spine).
  • Malasana: it helps to open up your hips. Hold for at least 5 breaths and really push your elbows onto your shins.
  • Planks: hold for at least one minute or as long as you can.
  • Downdog => Chaturanga: this transition was so hard for me. Do as many as you can and bend your knees if you can’t hold Chaturanga. Until this day I’m bending my knees!
  • Planks => Forearm planks: Go slowly to build strength. It’s not about how many you can do. If you can do only one but you focus on your core and breath then it’s awesome already.

Entering the pose

  • Starting from Malasana, take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Lean forward to put your hands on the floor while keeping your elbows where they are onto your shins (imagine you’re hugging your elbows with your legs). Your hands should be placed at shoulder length. Not too wide and not too narrow.
  • Round your spine like in cat stretch, then lean more forward and lift one foot. Hold it for 5 breaths, then come back to the initial position.
  • Once you’re ready, repeat with the other foot.

Try to do that as many times as you can, while always engaging your core, pushing through your shoulders and hands aaaaaand rounding your spine.

Once you build enough strength, you can try to lift both of your feet:

  • When you’re balancing on your hands and only one foot, lean even further by shifting your weight forward. You should be now on your tiptoe.
  • Try to lift your second foot. Don’t jump! The transition should be smooth.
  • Then try squeezing your legs as much as possible towards your bum.

If you can’t do it yet, it’s alright. Keep practicing a little bit every day and one day you’ll be surprised to hold it.

What to remember

  • Before any arm balances, make sure to warm up your wrists and also warm up your body with at least 2 or 3 rounds of sun salutation.
  • Round your spine like in cat stretch.
  • Push through your hands and shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Engage your core.
  • Don’t jump into the position. The weight shifting should be smooth.
  • Squeeze your legs towards your bum.
  • If you’re afraid to faceplant, put a pillow in front of you.
  • Be patient.

Last but not least

This is only the first stage of Bakasana.

Although this is not (yet) the full position, this easier version of Bakasana will give you a first arm balance feeling and you will also build core strength. And that’s exactly what you need to be able to lift those hips higher.

Remember to be patient with yourself and to enjoy your practice.

What’s important is the journey, not the destination.

Have fun!

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