Dragonfly (Maksikanagasana) is an advanced posture that involves arm balancing, a deep twist, and hip opening to achieve it!
There are three stages to progress to dragonfly, with variations as you develop the strength, flexibility, and tenacity to come into this shape!
Keep reading to learn how to prep your body for dragonfly yoga pose, plus the poses that neutralize the spine and release the strained muscles.
Table to Content:
Muscles that need to be strengthened.
Muscles that need to be stretched.
About Dragonfly Yoga Pose
Dragonfly is an advanced yoga posture that requires strength in the upper torso and the core muscles, deep twisting, and deep hip opening to balance in this complex shape.
Body Parts Targeted: core, chest, hips, upper back, wrists.
Props: 2 blocks (optional to go under the hands)
Benefits: Improves balance, strengthens the arms and shoulders, engages the core, enhances focus and concentration, stimulates digestive fire, opens the hips.
People recovering or who have hip injuries, wrist injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or migraines should avoid doing crow pose until cleared by a doctor.
People who are pregnant or menstruating, and those who suffer anxiety, should also avoid this arm balance and take malasana (yogic squat) or baddha konasana (bound angle pose).
For those with neck injury/sensitivity, those who are not taking the arm balance/inversion, and those with knee sensitivity, you can take malasana (yogic squat).
How to Prepare Your Body
A few of the poses to prepare your body for dragonfly include:
Parivrtta utkatasana (revolved chair), funky pigeon (an active pigeon pose that equally strengthens and lengthens the glutes), trikonasana (triangle), standing figure four pose (chair with half pigeon), vasisthasana (side plank), boat (navasana),
Muscles to strengthen:
Core (abdominals and obliques), chest (pectorals), biceps/triceps, inner thighs (adductors), and wrists need to be strong and engaged to get into and maintain dragonfly yoga pose. All arm balancing postures require deep flexion at the wrist, so stretching the forearm muscles and the wrists beforehand may bring more ease and agility as you practice.
Muscles to lengthen:
The outer hips (gluteal muscles) need to be supple and open in order for you to hook your elbow to your foot as you come into the arm balance.
Dragonfly, like side crow pose, is a very deep twist. The elbow hooks onto the sole of the foot as you come into the pose, so the glutes need to be supple and long for you to twist deeply enough to get the arm to the foot.
To achieve deep twists, lengthening the side body (obliques) will help to create space.
3 Tips to Progress into Dragonfly
The prep work for the advanced postures is more important than achieving the peak pose.
Having an attitude of acceptance will help you move through the challenging asanas and continue to learn and grow—both on and off your mat.
The practice is about the process, so enjoy the flow!
Three poses to help you prepare, practice, and play as you explore dragonfly:
Counterposes to Dragonfly
Dragonfly requires that you activate the deep core stabilizers, engage the muscles in the chest, round the mid-upper back, and press down with the palms to activate the forearms and arms. It demands a lot of the front body. For this reason, heart-opening postures are a great way to release dragonfly.
Backbends extend the spine and lengthen the muscles strained in arm balancing poses.
The hip flexors, aka the psoas, also work to support you in arm-balancing postures.
Stretching the front of the pelvis, hips, groins, and legs is a wonderful way to release your body after dragonfly and any arm balancing postures.
5 active poses to express the front body:
5 passive poses to stretch the front body:
Supported Setu Bandhāsana (bridge pose ) – take Just Be Restorative Yoga
Supported Matsyasana (fish pose) – take Let It Go Yin Yoga
Supported Anahatasana (heart pose) – take Chill Pill Yin Yoga
Supported Utthan Pristhasana (lizard pose) – take Open Pelvis Yin Yoga
Supported Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined bound angle) – take Night Chill Yin Yoga
Cues to Achieve Dragonfly Yoga Pose:
Come up to stand shift the weight into one foot.
Bend the opposite knee and hook the heel over your opposite thigh.
Sit down into a chair pose and draw the hips back until you can see your toes on the ground.
Bring your palms to prayer and twist in the same direction as the foot off the ground.
Hook the same elbow to the arch of your foot and press your foot and arm into each other.
Option to set the elbow at the shin if you cannot come into that deep of a twist!
Snuggle the armpit of the arm to the arch of the foot and stay here, or spread your wings.
Stay here, or set your palms on the ground, facing the front or the side of your mat, depending on how much support you want your arms to give your hips.
Shift the weight into the hands, lean forward, and maybe fly your toes off the ground and extend your leg to the side.
Press the foot into your arm, keep your gaze forward, and sparkle out through your toes.
Achieve Dragonfly Yoga Pose in a 7-Day Progressive Series on Practice with Clara Virtual Yoga Studio!
This 7-Day Series features 1-2 classes per day to prepare you for Dragonfly (Maksikanagasana).
You’ll move through vinyasa, slow flow, hatha, yin/restorative, mantra, and meditation practices necessary to advance to the peak yoga pose.
The goal is to complete the series feeling stronger, balanced, and empowered to practice peak yoga postures. Each day, there is a different focus, so you don’t burn out or strain the muscles.
This collection is accredited by Yoga Alliance and counts toward 7.5CE (Continuing Education) credited hours for yoga teachers.
Please read the instructions on receiving these credits in the Peak Pose Playlist.