Crow pose is one of the most popular yoga poses, and is a good way to prepare the body before the other advanced poses. It is also a good pose to strengthen the core. The way to keep the body balanced while practicing this pose is to imagine that the body is a bird that is trying to fly, and the hands and feet are wings.
Crow pose has been a favorite yoga pose for centuries, but it can be challenging for some. Here are five yoga poses that will prepare you for Crow Pose.
In my experience, the crow pose seems to be a pass pose in yoga. It is this first landing that gives students the experience of flying and opens up a whole new world of handball opportunities and flips.
It is also a reliable way to check if you are doing Chaturanga correctly. If so, Raven will fall into place more easily than expected. Failure to do so can lead to instability and fear of falling flat. Therefore, I encourage students to do Crow at the beginning of class and especially at the beginning of the yoga practice.
If you don’t feel strong enough for this pose yet, regular practice will help you strengthen your arms and core even more. Keep the momentum going and sign up for our free 30-day yoga challenge by clicking here. Familiarize yourself with the different yoga poses and you may find yourself in crow pose sooner than you think.
You don’t have to have years of yoga experience to find your raven; you just need to have courage and tune yourself in. Here are five yoga poses to help you prepare and release from the crow pose.
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Chaturanga is the base of Crow, take the time to make sure you perform it correctly. You can use a mirror, ask an instructor, or do a self-massage with a belt wrapped around the top of your forearms, just below your elbows.
How to do it: Step forward on your toes into the plank position so that your chest is behind your wrists. Bend your elbows to the sides and lower yourself halfway down. Important: Your elbows should be pressed against your sides and touching your ribs. Don’t spread your elbows.
Pull your elbows back with your triceps. Your biceps form a right angle with your forearms when your chest is above the ground. The chest does not extend beyond the elbows. Right there – those arms at a right angle, the elbows tight – that’s the base of the crow. Hold this position for three breaths.
The half moon lunge is one of my favorite poses of all time, mainly because it releases the tension in the hip flexors that we build up while sitting. A half moon a day keeps the doctor away! Give yourself time to breathe and hang in there by stretching the muscles we use for Crowe.
How to do it: Step out of the dog and look down with your right foot between your palms. Lower the back knee to the ground. Place your hands on the top of your right thigh and push your leg forward so that your pelvis sinks and slides past the back of your left knee.
Find a place where you are uncomfortable but NOT in pain and keep breathing deeply there 3-5 times. Repeat the process on the other side.
3. Prasaritha Padottanasana
An unexpected addition to the Crow product, but necessary to mimic the Crow feel. Focus on how you react when you are upside down. As your raven moves forward and your pelvic bones come up, your body also tilts up because your hips are higher than your head.
How to do it: Place your feet at either end of the mat, toes turned slightly outward and heels facing outward. Raise your hands to your hips and lower them to your knees to contract your quadriceps. Do hip thrusts and descend with a flat back until, at the last moment, you place your hands on the floor (or blocks) under your shoulder blades.
Bring the arms back slightly so that the hands are in the shape of a chaturanga, biceps parallel to the floor, elbows above the wrists. Use the bend in your elbows to bring the top of your head closer to the ground. Constantly shift your weight to your toes, lift your sit bones higher and stretch your hamstrings. Stop and hold your breath for five deep breaths.
Think of the chair pose as the crow pose. The legs remain bent and compressed in both positions. In Utkatasana, take a moment to analyze where your feet feel stiff. Go deep into the power that will drive your Raven.
How to do it: Stand on the mat and bring your feet together so that your big toes touch. Bend your knees and sit on an imaginary chair. Raise your arms above your head, biceps at ear level. Extend the tailbone to the floor.
Pull on the belly and lift it up. Relax the shoulder blades and lower the back to relax the neck muscles. Expand the chest, stretch the heart toward the ceiling. It’s a fiery pose. Stay inside. Hold this position for five to ten breaths. Sit lower without lowering your chest.
Yogic Squat is a pose we often use before going to Raven. It’s deep, challenging, and low enough that we can take off easily. Depending on the flexibility of your hips, this pose can be easy or incredibly difficult. Close your eyes and feel your body opening up.
How to do it: Place your feet on both edges of the mat. Heels in and toes out. Keep your heels on the ground when sitting low. If you have high heels, spread your feet even wider, perhaps on the floor outside your mat, or sit on a block to stabilize your posture. Bring the hands to the heart, press the thumbs to the chest and move the hips away from the midline with the force of the elbows.
Imagine your knees extending to different sides of the room. Then imagine a rope attached to your head, lifting you higher and lowering your pelvis. Pause, close your eyes and hold your breath five to ten times.
It’s time to fly!
Now, the pose you’ve been waiting for: Bakasana or crow pose. From Malasana, extend your arms forward in front of your feet. Step forward and stand on your toes. Bend your arms at the elbows and find your chaturanga hands – straight, bent arms that serve as a base, with the elbows extended inward and positioned above the wrists.
Remember, crows sit on branches just like your toes sit on the ground first. So stay there quietly while you build strength, or slowly bring one knee at a time to the back of your triceps, specifically the fleshy part between your deltoid and triceps, about a third below your shoulders.
Important: You have to lean forward to find your raven! That’s it – slide in. Give in to the fear. Know that if you have a solid foundation, you will not fall.
Your toes can stay on the horse while you train to strengthen your triceps inward and upward, lift your sit bones higher, and use your abs to stabilize your core. You can also move your feet up one at a time, with the heels moving toward the buttocks, like a crow flying.
Train with the tools you want: Belt around the arms, pillows under the head, blocks under the legs. Remember, it takes time to learn the crow, and even more time to master it. But it is a pose that teaches us to overcome fear. Lean into it.