Building Up To Crow Pose

Camille Dodson
Building Up To Crow Pose

Crow Pose looks very intimidating. When I used to go to yoga classes where the teacher instructed Crow, I would automatically retreat to Child’s Pose, convinced that I was too weak.

At some point, a teacher wasn’t willing to let me give up before I even began and pushed me to give it a try. What I found was that through my yoga practice and the poses that I was doing on a regular basis, my body built up enough strength and control to get into Crow. It turns out that Crow Pose is much easier than other arm balancing poses because of the way that the legs are used for support.

If you’re still intimidated or struggling with Crow, here are some ways to build up to it.

Build Strength in the Arms

Credit: Kristin McGee Credit: Kristin McGee

To get into the full expression of Crow, you will need some upper body strength. Luckily, there are so many yoga poses to help you out in that area.

Plank will incorporate the arms, but a Forearm Plank even more so. From Forearm Plank, lift the tailbone and find Dolphin Pose.

Move up and down this way a few times to build strength. As it happens, our muscles reach their peak of engagement after 30 seconds in a static pose, but when we add repetitions to the movements, the muscles work harder and start to tone.


Work on Your Core

5-Boat-Pose-Variations-To-Wake-Up-Your-CoreCrow is just as much about the core as it is about the arms. Engaging this area helps to steady and support your body. To prep your core, try practicing Boat and Plank Pose as much as possible. Play with holding each for long periods of time, or moving through them fluidly to tone different muscles.

For example, in Boat, try extending the body out long so you’re almost lying down and then pulling back up into the pose. In Plank, move from the high to low position a couple of times before continuing with your Chaturanga.


Master Your Transitions

Plank Pose Misalignments - Plank - CORRECTAnother good way to start using the arm and core muscles more is in your transitions. We often focus so much on the poses themselves, that we tend to get lazy on the transitions. But this is where you can really start to build muscle by supporting you body through purposeful, controlled movement.

After you start to master the Vinyasa Flow, you can play with jumping back to Plank rather than stepping your feet. In this jump, work on moving slowly and with control and try to even hover for a second with your feet off the ground before jumping back.

Attempting the Pose

Credit: Jaclyn Nguyen Credit: Jaclyn Nguyen

Once you’ve put all the work in, you still need to get your body ready for the real deal.

It’s a great idea to practice Crow by just lifting one foot at a time. So, from a wide squat, you want to place your hands on the floor in front of you, as wide as your shoulders. Then, start to straighten your legs, placing your knees on the arms, as close to the armpit as possible. Start to lean your body forward so the toes of one foot start to come off the ground.

Just hang out here getting comfortable with the way your body feels. Then, switch it up, giving it a try on the other leg. Once this feels ok, you can play with getting that other foot off the ground, even if it’s just for a second.

One of the keys to balancing in this pose, as with any other, is to find a focal point. For Crow, it’s important to focus in front of you rather than under you, as the body tends to follow the gaze. Looking down could mean falling down on your face!

Once you’ve got both feet off the ground, you can start to work on getting the arms straight as well, as this is the full expression of the pose. The idea is not that your legs are resting on the arms, but rather that the core and arms are supporting you and the legs are simply squeezing into the arms.

Mastering Crow Pose can take years, but it is totally attainable and a gateway to all the other arm balancing poses. Working on your strength a little bit every day will have incredible benefits for your practice.

Remember, it’s all about the journey in yoga, so enjoy the ride and be ready to see the amazing things your body can do!

Do you have any tips to help build up to Crow Pose? Share them with the community in the comments below!