Crow pose is one of the first arm balances I experienced and damn…. it was quite the experience.
Not only did I defy gravity (sort-of), feel like a badass, and look like a super yogi…. I also face planted into the floor beneath me. Like I said, it was a true experience.
Aside from the face to the ground encounter & my ego a tad deflated, I was immediately hooked.
Me + arm balances became a thing, possibly a small love affair, and there were and still are many a break-up…. but nevertheless, I’ll always be intrigued, challenged, excited, and humbled by arm balances.
If you’re starting to flirt with crow pose or arm balances in general, this tutorial is your jam. And if you’re scared shitless/never considered taking flight, then even the more the reason to stay & kick your fears aside!
Here’s the deal yogis – crow isn’t as scary as it appears, it’s not about how physically fit you are, and it’s most certainly not about flexibility. So what is it about?
Courage. Tenacity. Vulnerability.
+ a side of I’m a badass, I can achieve anything attitude!
In the tutorial below, I’ll cover my 5 secret ingredients to arm balances, PLUS how to get into it!
Interested in a full class dedicated to crow pose? Check out this flow: Crow Pose Yoga Flow: Build Strength + Discover Your Potential
My 5 Secret Ingredients
So obviously these 5 yoga ingredients aren’t a huge secret, because here I am sharing them, but they’re my go-to when balancing upon the arms.
Let’s quickly run through them –
1. Spread the fingers wide
+ root down through the palm of your hand.
Let me be clear, when I say spread your fingers wide, I mean – imagine your favorite piece of pie is between each finger, so the larger the space, the bigger the piece of pie.
Yoga translation: the more space between your fingers, the large the ground to hand connection, the more stable your crow pose will be.
Is that making sense?
In addition to spreading the fingers wide, we also want to focus on the palm of the hand. Imagine your hand + the ground is an exchange of energy… just stick with me yogis.
When the hand connects and root down into the Earth, we’re then able to bounce this grounding energy up through the fingers, hand, wrists, forearms, and all the way up into the body to fly.
p.s. – this exchange of energy happens in every posture, it’s the secret to unlocking the feeling of lightness and effortlessness.
2. Create a shelf with the arms
And here we go, our liftoff is starting to get real…
The next step is learning how to position our knees over the arms, basically creating a human-like shelf system.
A popular way to enter this posture, and one that I love, is by starting in malasana (yogi squat). For the below tutorial, I’ll demonstrate from here so we’re all on the same page. But regardless of how you enter the pose, it’s key to find the connection between knees and the backs of the arms.
Take your time here, practice different variations, allow yourself to fall and then fall again, but please – get back up and try again, it’s all part of the yoga journey!
3. Gaze forward, always.
I can’t stress this ingredient enough….
Just like in life, our eyes should be locked in the direction we’re heading. We want a steady gaze, a single-pointed focus, a fixed goal.
For all arms balances and inversions (minus headstand), you must pick a point, lock eyes with that point, and never let your eyes wander – not even for a moment! This single-pointed focus is called a drishti in the yoga world, it’s a tool to help us balance while staying calm and collected.
The common mistake I see, time and time again, is the gaze focused backwards or underneath the body. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Always set your gaze on the intended direction.
4. Suck the belly up and in
You might be thinking to yourself…. you want me to do what? and how does that even work?
I get it, the idea of sucking anything in sounds crude, but in crow pose, it’s critical to experiencing a safe flight!
In order for us to really understand this to-do, let’s run through a quick exercise.
- Lay down onto your back, stretch the legs long and the rest the arms down by your sides.
- On an inhale breath – suck your bellybutton up towards your heart and send it back towards your spine.
- On the exhale – keep your stomach/core engaged.
- Continue to breathe like this, incredibly engaged, and start to understand the mechanics of your body when “sucking in”.
When we start to experiment with crow pose, keep all of the above in mind, and repeat to yourself –
SUCK IT UP AND IN, UP AND IN, UP AND IN.
And lastly – remember to breathe!
Any posture, but especially advanced postures, require a steady + active breath. It’s common and easy to hold the breath in crow pose, but please – breathe it out baby!
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
Now that I’ve revealed my epic secret ingredients, let’s actually start to fly…
I’ll begin with the basics, slowly flirt with the idea of crow pose, and then full force go for it! And if a face plant or two occurs, that’s normal and actually noteworthy – give yourself a high five for stepping outside the comfort zone.
And when you’re ready to advance your practice, check out this full class on side crow: Arm Balance Yoga Flow: Twist + Strengthen into Side Crow Pose
And if the idea of face planting is terrifying, I got you (don’t I always though). This is where our yoga props come into play – strap + block – and help to support, strengthen and stabilize the posture.
What do you think yoga babes? Are you ready to be the badass you are and fly into crow pose?
I know you’re ready, no need to answer.
Until next time – xoxo.