No doubt about it, Crow pose is a challenge, but definitely one you can master. If conquering Crow is on your yoga agenda, here's how to do it, as well as some helpful tips and tricks to get you balancing on your hands.
How to Do Crow
- Begin in a Wide Squat, also known as Malasana. Place your palms firmly on the ground in front of you. Be sure to spread your fingers as wide as you can, and press into your fingertips to release any pressure in your wrists.
- Now straighten your legs slightly and place your knees as high up onto your triceps as possible, toward your armpits.
- Shift your weight forward into your hands and see if you can lean the weight of your knees into the backs of your arms. Then shift weight into your hands and lift one foot off the ground and then the other. If you can bring your toes together, you'll feel more compact and it'll be easier to balance. Squeeze your knees together slightly and pull your belly button in toward your spine to give you a sense of lightness.
- Stay here for five breaths.
Do A Few Rounds of Push-Ups
Arm balances like Crow are all about upper body strength. You can strengthen your arms and shoulders with all the vinyasas you do in class, but if you're itching to do Crow, do upper body work outside of yoga class as well. Push-ups are essential, so try all these variations, and work on them every day. You can also use dumbbells or your own body weight to do these arm-strengthening moves. Not only will your upper body become stronger to hold yourself up in Crow, but you'll also feel confident showing off your cut arms.
Strengthen Your Core
Aside from a toned upper body, a strong core is also a must. Practice these poses to target your tummy and back muscles. Skip the crunches and work your core while simultaneously strengthening your arms with these plank variations. The stronger your abs are, the easier it will be to stabilize yourself in Crow.
Stay Low and Rock
Although the advanced version of Crow is done with straight arms, try it first with bent elbows. Start in Wide Squat and place your palms on the floor. Bend your elbows back, and rest the inside of your bent knees on the back of your upper arms. Lift up onto your tiptoes, and place most of your weight on your hands. With control, shift forward, lifting your feet off the floor. Hold for a breath or two and then with control, lower your feet to the floor. Repeat rocking in and out of Crow to strengthen your core, upper body, and the muscles in your hands. If your wrists bother you, try this technique to reduce strain on your wrists.
Start Upside Down
Another way to get into Crow is from Tripod Headstand, so if you're confident in that inversion, give this a try. Place your hands on the mat, shoulder-width apart. Lower the top of your head to the floor about eight inches or so in front of your hands; your elbows should be at 90-degree angles. Straighten your legs, walk your feet in toward your face, bend your knees, and rest in Tripod Headstand Prep (shown below). Straighten your legs into the air, coming into Tripod Headstand.
Now comes the fun part. Bend your knees and lower them onto your triceps, coming back into Tripod Headstand Prep. Bring the focus to your lower body. Keep your toes tucked in close to your bum, engage your core, and lower hips toward the floor as you simultaneously lift your head (looking forward will help you stay balanced). This is difficult, so be patient and focus on moving slowly and with control.
Jump Into It
You can also hop into Crow from Downward Facing Dog. I know this seems
like a broken nose waiting to happen really challenging, but once you learn how, this approach might be the most rewarding since it really focuses the work in your core. Begin in Down Dog. Walk your feet halfway toward your hands and squat down with your knees wide, feet together. Gently rock your weight back and forth from your hands to your feet, and when you're ready, rock forward and take a little hop, trying to land with your knees on your triceps. The trick is to stay low, keep your knees wide, and land softly. Once you've mastered that, walk your feet a few inches back, and try again. As you feel more confident, keep stepping farther back until you can jump into Crow with your feet all the way back in Downward Facing Dog.