Yoga Poses

3 Ways to Prep for Urdhva Kukkutasana (Upward Rooster Pose)

Learn how to move from Padmasana to Urdhva Kukkutasana safely with these prep poses to strengthen your shoulders and abdominals.

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Bakasana (Crane Pose)

Rick Cummings

BENEFITS Activates a flexion pattern throughout your spine (articulating your joints in otherwise often-neglected ways) while awakening the apanic force that removes excess from your body and mind; strengthens your shoulders and abdominals; squeezes and stimulates your lower digestive organs.

Squat down with your feet together and your lower back rounded. Open your knees and bring them to the outside of your shoulders. Squeeze the outsides of your shoulders with your knees, placing your hands on the floor in front of you with your index fingers pointing straight ahead. Press your spine up between your shoulder blades to round your upper back. On an inhalation, roll your pubic bone up toward your navel, coiling your lower back as you straighten your arms and lift your feet off the floor. To encourage the coiled flexion of your spine, bring your feet into dorsiflexion by drawing your toes toward your knees. When you come to full height, extend your feet and point your toes backward. Then, lift your head and gaze down softly. Hold for 5–10 breaths.

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Utplutih (Uprooting)

Rick Cummings

BENEFITS Strengthens your shoulders and abdominals; helps tone your pelvic floor.

Take Padmasana (Lotus Pose), and tighten the bind by gently drawing your knees closer together. Place your hands on the floor beside your hips. Round your upper back, press up in your spine between your shoulder blades, and roll your pubic bone toward your navel—this will create a strong flexion pattern in your spine and a hollow feeling under your belly, just in front of your sacrum (a flat bone at the base of your spine). Hold onto that hollow feeling as you straighten your arms and lift your Lotus off the floor. Keep your chin up to preserve enthusiasm. Hold for 5–25 breaths (or as long as you can).

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Karandavasana (Duck Pose)

Rick Cummings

BENEFITS Strongly activates apana; strengthens your shoulders, arms, and abdominals; develops the coiling action of your spine that’s crucial for Urdhva Kukkutasana (the final pose) and other postures.

Take Padmasana, then place your hands and forearms on the floor in front of you with your elbows no wider than your shoulders. Keep your tailbone dropped, and round your upper back, pressing your spine up between your shoulder blades. This helps to activate your serratus anterior muscles (outer chest muscles that run along your ribs) to stabilize your shoulders. Now shift your weight forward and use your abdominals to slide your knees up the backs of your arms to just below your shoulders. When you find full height, lift your head. Hold for 5–25 breaths.

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About Our Pro
Teacher and model Ty Landrum is director of the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado. He teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the contemplative style of his mentors, Mary Taylor and Richard Freeman. With a PhD in philosophy, Ty has a special touch for explaining the theory of yoga with color and creativity. As a teacher, he’s passionate about sharing the brilliance of yoga with anyone willing to learn (for more information, go to