Heron
KROUÑCHĀSANA (क्रौञ्चासन)
(crown-CHAHS-anna)

 


‘Krouñch’= heron, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Krauncasana

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pose Type: Seated / Stretch

1. Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana), seated with your legs extended straight.
2. Make sure to bring your shoulder blades back, so that your shoulders are under your ears and your spine is extended upward.
3. Bend your left knee back into Half Hero Pose (Ardha Virasana). Make sure that your heel and toes are next to the outside of your left thigh and that your heel is lined up with your toes pointing straight back.
4. Place your hand on your left calf, to help rotate the muscle outward. Keep your knee pointing forward.
5. Keeping your right leg extended, place your hands behind your back for support, as you adjust so that your buttock is flush on the ground and your sit bones, left shin, and left ankle are rooted to the mat.
6. When ready, bend your right knee so that you can wrap your hands around your flexed foot. Alternatively, you can clasp your wrist around the foot and place your hand in Guyan Mudra.
7. Once you have a firm grip, slightly lean back and inhale, drawing the navel into your spine. Then lift and extend your right leg up toward your head, keeping your foot flexed and your hands wrapped around your foot. Be sure not to lock or hyperextend your knee.
8. Straighten your back by engaging your core to straighten your spine.
9. Relax your neck and shoulders, keeping your shoulders down, and your shoulder blades drawn flat to your back. Be sure not to lock your elbows.
10. Gaze toward the toes of your extended left leg. Feel the stretch in your abdomen, groin, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
11. Hold this pose for several breaths. About 20 seconds to increase flexibility and strength.
12. When ready, gently and slowly release your leg and come back to Staff Pose (Dandasana).
13. Repeat on other side.

Common Adjustments
• Shoulders strained or up toward ears
• Back arched
• Rounded Lower back
• Chest collapsed
• Hips not in alignment and facing forward
• Hips in the air or to the side / Sit bones not grounded
• Knees not pointing straight
• Knee or ankle discomfort or pain / Leg cramps
• Heel and toes not in line
• Heel not next to thighs
• Foot of extended leg not flexed
• Knee locked
• Knee hyperextended

Modifications
• For students with tight glutes, hamstrings, or calf muscles, they can either: a) point the toes of the lifted leg, b) slightly bend the knee of the lifted leg, c) bend the knee of the lifted leg to the chest (so that the calf is parallel to the ground) to reduce the stress, or c) they can use a strap around the foot of the lifted leg if they cannot reach their foot.
• For students who experience too much pressure on the hips, knees, or ankles, have them either: a) place their toes at a 45-degree angle away from their thigh, b) place a blanket under the hips, knee and/or ankle, or c) instead of having a knee in Half Heron, bend the knee so that it is set up like Forward Bend, Seated Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana) or extend the leg out to relieve the pressure.
• For students that need assistance with flexibility, have them practice facing away from a wall with their knee to foot up the wall.
• For students who would like a challenge, they can either try to bring their head to their shin, with their thigh against their chest, or they can practice Twisted or Revolved Heron (Parivrtta Krounchasana).

Counter Poses
• Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
• Staff (Dandasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana) or Extended Child’s Pose (Utthita Balasana)
• Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Cobra (Bhujangasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Bow (Dhanurasana)
• Camel (Ustrasana)
• Plank, Side (Vasisthasana)
• Forearm Side Plank or Half Side Plank Pose
• Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
• Upward Facing Plank Pose (Purvottonasana)
• Gate (Parighasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine• Hips
• Gluteus Maximus• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Knees
• Ankles• Feet

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the neck, arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, entire back, spine, hips, groin, quadriceps, hamstrings, knees, calf muscles, ankles, and feet. This helps to improve flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings and strengthens the tendons around the ankles and knees.
• Relieves stiffness and tension in the neck, shoulders, hip joints, groin, and knees. This also aids with pain in the back, calf muscles, ankles, and heels, as well as reduces the pain of a deviated, broken, or fused tailbone. This is therapeutic for students with rheumatic pains in the knees, feet, and ankles.
• Opens chest and lungs and is therapeutic for students with high blood pressure, asthma, and sinusitis.
• Improves blood circulation (especially in the legs), which improves lung function, as well as soothes headaches, along with symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort. This also stimulates the kidneys, bladder, stomach, ovaries, pancreas, spleen, liver, and uterus and soothes the adrenal glands. This is therapeutic for students with diabetes, weak liver or kidneys, or sciatica.
• Improves colon function and aids in digestions by massaging digestive and pelvic organs, which helps relieve flatulence and constipation, as well as relieves symptoms of hyperacidity.
• Improves posture and spinal alignment.
• Stimulates the reproductive, lymphatic, endocrine, and urinary systems.
• Stimulates the nervous system, which calms the brain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as relieves mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue. This also helps improve focus.

Contraindications
1. Students with stiffness, discomfort, or injury in the hips, knees or ankles should avoid this pose unless modifications are used with proper guidance.
2. Students who are pregnant (after first trimester) or have a headache, should avoid this pose or use modifications.
3. Students with cardiac or other circulatory concerns, have a heart disease, insomnia, asthma, or osteoarthritis, should avoid this pose.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.

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