Chakravakasana (Sun Bird Pose)
How to do it
Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned over your wrists and your hips aligned over your knees.
Inhale: Lift your chest forward and up, away from the navel and raise your chin up a bit.
Exhale: Progressively contract your abdomen as you bring your elbows down first and then move your tailbone down toward the heels.
Inhale: Lift up on your hands and knees and stretch through the front of the body. Do not exaggerate your lower back curve, focus on curving your upper back instead.
Continue to move up and down with your breath.
Chakravakasana: 3 stages is a good way to ease into the pose when your lower back or hips are too tight. It is also useful for teaching new students how to do all the different elements of the pose, so that they don’t just breeze through it, but do it mindfully.
Chakravakasana: segmented movement works beautifully with krama(segmented) exhale. It helps you gain control over progressive abdominal engagement and has langhana effect on the system (which means it helps to reduce and eliminate unwanted stuff).
One knee back
Chakravakasana: one knee back can be very useful in stretching your lower back one side at a time. We usually do not move in-and-out of this pose, but rather hold it for few breaths. I wouldn’t recommend it if your sacrum is irritated.
Chakravakasana: hip work is fantastic for relieving tension in the hip flexors. It also helps with neck and upper back tightness. I like to follow the 4-4-4 principle here: move back and forth 4x, hold the knee in for 4 breaths and then hold the leg back for 4 breaths. It’s pretty powerful!
Chakravakasana: leg raises is great for loosening up the hip flexors and glutes. If you sit a lot, this pose is your friend! It also helps with lower back tension. It works best to repeat it several times and then hold for several breaths on each side.
Chakravakasana: core support is great to use when the student needs to be reminded about the abdominal contraction on exhale. It is also great for demonstrating the difference between the “zip up” and “corset” abdominal contraction.
Block between legs
Chakravakasana: block between ankles is useful for giving students a reference point of where their feet are. Sometimes we let the students bring their knees wider and feet closer together, and other times we want the ankles directly behind the knees. For those situations, placing the block between the feet helps maintain the tracking between the hips, knees and ankles. The block also elevates the pelvis a bit in the Child’s pose so that you don’t press down on the heels (if there is an ankle injury or something similar).
Bolster under head
Chakravakasana: bolster under head is useful for those students who cannot bring their head down to the ground. It also helps relieve neck tension if the student is able to relax their neck fully in this position.
Bolster over ankles
Chakravakasana: bolster over ankles is useful when the student cannot bring the buttocks down toward the heels for whatever reason. The bolster gives some support and comfort. It can also help if the student has knee issues or restrictions – the bolster helps to elevate the pelvis a bit so that the knees don’t have to fold as much.
Chakravakasana: full warm up is a combination of similar poses – Chakravakasana, Bharmanasana and Cat-Cow pose – that is very useful any time you need a quick warm up.