What better way to welcome in the Year of The Rooster than by exploring the aptly named Kukkutasana or Rooster pose? In Sanskrit the word Kukkut means cock or rooster and Asana means pose. Like many poses in yoga that are named after animals or birds, Kukkutasana is so named because when executing the posture, our body ressembles the stance of the rooster! Kukkutasana is a highly advanced yoga pose and certainly not one to be attempted without a strong warm-up and advice, guidance and the watchful eye of an experienced yoga teacher, to ensure your safety and well-being.
Kukkutasana has a whole range of benefits:
– Activates Muladhara Chakra
– Enhances balance, focus and concentration and mental endurance of the body and mind
– Tones the muscles of the abdominal area and invigorates and stimulates the digestive system
– Beneficial for menstrual discomfort
– Stretches the arms, wrists, forearms and shoulders
– Strengthens the shoulders, arms and chest.
– Makes the chest broader
– Improves flexibility of the hips and legs
To prepare for this posture, you will need a strong warm-up, placing emphasis on the core, wrists, arms, hips and knees. Crow pose, Bridge pose, Hip opening postures, Half Lotus pose, Mulabandha and Uddiyannabandha are all useful poses to help prepare for Kukkutasana.
1. First sit in Lotus pose or Padmasana. This means inhaling and crossing the right leg on top of the left thigh so your foot rests as close to the groin as possible. Thereafter, inhale and cross the left leg on top of the right thigh as close to the groin as possible.
2. Inhale and place your arms through the gaps between your thighs and calf muscles. As you exhale guide your palms to rest on your mat through this gap.
3. Inhale and spread your palms and fingers wide to resemble the feet of a rooster. Make sure your middle finger is pointing forward to maintain the natural alignment through the shoulder, elbow and wrist. This will maximise the arms’ ability to support the body in this pose.
4. Exhale and push your palms and fingers into the floor as much as possible, balancing your body on your hands and arms. Inhale and lift your bottom off the floor engaging Mulabandha and Uddiyannabandha, bringing your knees almost up to the level of your elbows.
5. With regular practice you will be able to increase the duration for which you are able to hold Kukkutasana. It may be that you start with just a few seconds. Your back should be as straight as possible in this pose.
6. Exhale and slowly lower your body to the floor. Repeat 2-3 times.
7. Inhale and draw your arms and hands out of your legs and return to Padmanasana. Inhale and release the left leg followed by the right leg in to a seated position with legs extended long in front (Dandasana).
8. Repeat Padmasana with the left leg followed by the right. Execute Kukkutasana again, 2-3 times.
If you wish to give Kukkutasana a go and are unable to do full lotus, you may wish to practise half lotus on each side. If you would like to practise Kukkutasana in any of your classes, please speak to your teacher.
Geraldine Grey, Vice Principal of The Radiant Hand Academy of Yoga, Senior Yoga Teacher and Resident Physiotherapist, RHCYT500, Sports Science BSc Hons