If you’ve yet to start diving into arm balances in your yoga practice, it can feel intimidating when an instructor calls out an advanced yoga move like crow pose in the middle of class. Yes, you have to support your entire body in your hands, and yes, it does feel like you could fall flat on your face at first.
Like all arm balances, crow requires upper body and core strength with a strong mental focus, a touch of courage, and lots of patience. Here’s how to do it, some tips to remember, and why this pose can be a beneficial addition to your practice.
How to do crow pose (bakasana):
- Come into a low squat with feet hip-width apart, heels lifted, and elbows on the inside of your knees.
- Begin to slowly lean forward, placing your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart, and fingers spread wide. Engage the core and arms.
- Keeping your chin slightly forward, bend your arms so they make a 90-degree angle, pushing your hands into the floor and tilting your hips up. Your feet will start wanting to come off the ground.
- Slowly lift up one foot, maintaining the lift in the hips and the engagement of the core and arms.
- Once you’re stable with one foot raised, begin to raise the other. Hold your gaze on the floor in front of you, and keep the 90-degree bend in your elbows. Remember to keep sending the hips up.
- Hold for five full breaths, and exit by placing your feet down and returning to the low squat.
Tips to remember:
- Be sure to warm up the wrists first.
- Use a strap around your upper arms to keep elbows from splaying out to the sides.
- Practice balancing by placing a yoga block on its shortest side under your feet. Rather than trying to lift both legs, focus on lifting one at a time for a few rounds.
- Place a pillow under your face if you’re feeling fear around falling.
- Focus on lifting your hips high, almost as if your knees could lift off your elbows.
What are the benefits?
Crow is an empowering pose that, while challenging, is accessible with a strong, steady yoga practice. It strengthens the arms, first and foremost, but all arm balances also require core strength to support your body. It also strengthens the wrists, shoulders, and upper back. Plus, it opens up the hips (which is especially helpful if you’ve been sitting all day long).
And on top of that, the focus on concentration necessary for crow pose makes it excellent for flexing your mental muscles, too. It can be unnerving to risk falling, but overcoming that fear is part of the journey.
So, next time crow pose comes up in class, give it a go! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find you can hold it for a few seconds, maybe 10 seconds the next time, and so on. From there, you can begin incorporating this pose into your regular practice for extra strength and balance.
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