The Dragonfly, known as the expert flier in all of nature, can soar upwards in a vertical line or nosedive straight down with the greatest of ease. This multitasker will catch their prey, eat, and also mate—all while hovering mid-air.
Their lifespan ranging from a few days to one year, some dragonflies travel 11,000 miles on a round trip across the Indian Ocean. Build up to the strength and endurance of this creature and challenge yourself to Dragonfly Pose (Maksikanagasana), a high flying arm balance peak pose, the next time you practice!
The Pros and Cons
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!
Preparation for 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.
I know this from experience, trust me, NOT FUN! 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.
Ready, Set, Maksikanagasana!
- Begin 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.
- 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.
Modifications and Variations
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.
I have heard some instructors refer to Maksikanagasana as Hummingbird or Grasshopper Pose. Whichever name you choose, the same structure applies—just remember to breathe, stay out of the poses that hurt you, and enjoy soaring to new heights and evolving your practice.