Dragonfly is a very hard pose that combines an arm balance and a twist. It has a number of elements that are very challenging in their own rights. You have to be a confident arm balancer and comfortable with Side Crow and Flying Crow. Flexibility in the hips and hamstrings is also necessary to get your legs into position. This is not a pose you’re going to pick up easily.
The good news is that everything you’re working on by consistently doing yoga is bringing you to a point where this pose becomes accessible. It’s fun when it all comes together, but try not to get too goal-oriented in your yoga practice. Checking poses off your to-do list is not what it’s all about. When you’re ready for Dragonfly, it will be ready for you. Here’s how to get in and out of it.
Benefits of Dragonfly Pose
This intricate pose creates space in the hips, pelvis, and lumbar spine while simultaneously building strength in the arms, chest, upper back, and core muscles. Not many poses offer such a total body workout, but make sure you warm up each of the following areas before entering Dragonfly. If you have any lower back, shoulder, or neck injuries, refrain from taking this pose all the way up. Instead, follow through with the warmup sequence and see how close you can get!
How to Do Dragonfly Pose (Maksikanagasana)
The external rotators of the hips, the muscles that allow the leg to turn outward and away from the midline, need the most attention for Dragonfly Pose. Without the proper amount of range of motion, your foot will slide off of your arm during the balance and you will fall on your face. First and foremost, breathe and practice patience. Pigeon Pose and variations of it will help relieve some of the pent up stress we keep in the body’s favorite storage spot—the outer hips!
Try some Standing Forward Folds, Splits, and a few Down Dogs to prep your hamstrings to take flight! Fire up the core as well: Chaturanga, Floating Stick Pose (Utpluti Dandasana), and Crow Pose (Bakasana) builds up the necessary strength in the chest, shoulders, and transverse abdominis for lift off. Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana) will lengthen and loosen up the spine so you can fly pain-free, and also serves as an alternative entry position for Dragonfly.
- Begin by standing in Mountain Pose.
- Shift your weight into your right leg and cross your left leg above the knee so your shin is parallel to the floor. This variation on Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is same position from which you enter Flying Crow.
- Bend your right knee to about a 90-degree angle, as if you were sitting in a chair, and twist your upper body towards the right.
- Place the arch of your left foot as close as possible to the left armpit or at least on the mid tricep. Getting the foot high up on the arm will result in greater stability.
- Lower both palms toward the floor and use the back of both arms to support the body. Set up looks like a Chaturanga twisted off to the right. The left arm supports the left leg, and ideally, you will use your core instead of resting body weight on the right arm.
- Extend the right leg and allow it to act as a "stopper" for the left foot providing a solid structure. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before placing both feet back on the floor and returning to Mountain.
- Repeat on the other side.
Dragonfly Pose for Beginners
There’s not really a beginner’s version, but Side Crow is a good preparatory pose. It gives you the feeling of how much you have to twist your torso and how to far forward you need to tip in order to get your feet off the ground. Don’t be surprised if the two sides are very different. There are a lot of factors that go into making this pose work, but the openness of the hips is the one that may it possible on one side but not the other.
Entering the pose from standing can place unnecessary strain on the knees and exaggerate a fear of falling especially if the hips and low back do not want to cooperate. Try entering from Ardha Matsyandrasna when the hips are already grounded, and trust the strength you have in your arms and core. While this variation may take more time, you will feel a greater sense of control by starting closer to the ground. If you still struggle with getting your hips off of the ground from the standing and seated variation, try placing blocks under your hands. The added elevation might provide the boost you need.
Dragonfly Pose for Advanced
To get the most out of this pose, avoid these errors:
- Insufficient Warmup. You must be fully warmed up before you can get into the pose as it requires extreme flexibility in the hips and hamstrings. Don’t try to force your joints to bend when they are not ready.
- Foot Sliding off Arm. If you try to do this pose without enough flexibility you are likely to find it hard to keep your foot on your arm. This can result in falling forward.
Safety and Precautions
Avoid this pose if you have any injury to your lower back, hips, shoulders, wrists, or neck. Be sure you are able to master the preparatory poses and have developed the required strength and flexibility. Stop if you feel any sharp pain. This pose is not recommended during pregnancy.