We’ve divided this detailed guide for Kraunchasana into four different parts below.
Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Kraunchasana
If you are a beginner, start your Heron pose practice with the following warm-up yoga asanas.
These will help you activate your legs, ankles, core, and spine for the primary practice:
1. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Forward) - As the Heron Pose is a seated yoga asana, you should start with opening your pelvis and legs. Begin by sitting in a Staff pose and create a butterfly formation with your legs. Ensure that your knees are close to the mat.
Keep your spine tall, hold your feet together with your palms, stay in this stance, and breathe deeply for a few minutes. You can also quickly increase blood circulation in your pelvic area by flapping your legs like butterfly wings.
2. Virasana (Hero Pose) - Sit in a kneeling position on the mat and keep your spine straight. Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
This pose will increase blood flow in the entire lower body by activating your knees, ankles, thighs, and shins all at once.
3. Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose) - This is a popular posture from the Seated Forward Bend category in Ashtanga Yoga. Start by sitting in Staff pose, then bend one leg in a half-butterfly stance while keeping the other leg straight in front of you. Now, gently bend your torso toward your straight leg on the ground.
This pose is quite similar to Kraunchasana, except that it is done on the ground. The support from the ground will open your hamstrings and back muscles and help newbies develop a stronger foundation for the Heron pose.
4. Navasana (Boat Pose) - To hold the Kraunchasana for a longer duration, you will need an active core. So, get into Dandasana and gently shift your body weight from your pelvis to your tailbone.
Now, inhale and tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift a single leg off the mat at a time. Extend your arms straight and point your legs up diagonally. Hold this pose here for 1-3 minutes, and then relax. You can also practice Boat pose with props and variations for easy execution.
Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Kraunchasana
The following are steps to practice the Heron Pose:
Step 1- Inhale as you start by sitting in Dandasana (Staff Pose).
Step 2- Next, bend your left leg in Ardha Virasana (Half-Hero Pose) and keep your right leg straight on the ground.
Step 3- Engage your core, straighten your spine and ensure that you remain balanced so that you don’t fall while executing the main Heron pose.
Step 4- Now, bend your right leg and hold your foot with both hands.
Step 5- Slowly, start to lift your right leg off the mat and bring it close to your face by keeping your back upright, shoulders dropping back, and keeping your chest open in the front.
Step 6- If possible, touch the shin of your leg with your forehead and hold this pose here for a few seconds.
Step 7- Gently bring your right leg back to the ground and get into the Staff pose again.
Step 8- Relax both legs in Staff pose for a few seconds, then repeat the same on the other side.
Inhale - When you sit in Staff pose, engage your core muscles and lift the leg up.
Exhale - When your leg is parallel to your forehead and when you release te Heron pose.
Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Kraunchasana for 30 seconds on each side.
Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Kraunchasana for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind
Is this your first time performing Kraunchasana? Here are a few crucial posture cues in mind:
Try not to overstretch: Kraunchasana is an intermediate to advanced stretch for the hamstrings. Overstretching of the hamstrings can occur while pulling your leg close to your forehead. If you feel the stretch is getting slightly painful or uncomfortable, kindly stop and try to modify your practice with props. Overstretching can cause severe muscle tears around the hamstrings and abductors.
Keep the core engaged: If you’re unable to sit and balance in Kraunchasana, it means you need to engage your core muscles by stabilizing your abs, obliques, lower back, spine, and thighs all at once. This will help you build a stronger foundation for the balancing act of Heron pose. The more engaged you keep your core muscles while holding the posture, the more toned you will get.
Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Kraunchasana
Post Heron pose practice, your entire body might feel intense pressure around your core and hamstrings. Here are a few poses to relax and rejuvenate the body:
1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): After Kraunchasana, get into Dandasana and focus on your breathing for a few seconds. Now, inhale deeply as you raise both arms over your head and start bending forward onto your legs.
Rest your forehead on your knees and extend your arms in front as you relax your spine, hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders. This pose is best done with a slight bend in the knees.
2. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend): For complete relaxation of your lower back and inner thighs, get into the wide-angle seated stance and start bending your upper body forward until you reach the ground.
This pose is very similar to Paschimottanasana and targets the same muscles. The significant difference between both is that you will feel increased relaxation in the sacrum and inner thighs.