Crow pose is one of the foundational arm balances in a yoga practice. While it’s not necessary to float effortlessly into an arm-balance in order to have an effective yoga practice, the level of awareness, focus and equal parts strength and ease necessary to explore and practice these types of poses can most certainly benefit your life both on and off the mat.
Below is a brief warm-up followed by a step-by-step progression into crow pose. If time allows, consider starting with a seated twist to warm and loosen your spine and a downward facing dog to warm and open your shoulders and bring awareness to your hands and wrists.
If you do have wrist or shoulder injuries, consider staying with Step 1 of the crow pose instructions.
Plank Variation Warmup
Begin in tabletop position — wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers evenly until you feel your palms open and connected to your mat. Stay here for a few slow, deep breaths. On your next exhale, step your feet back into plank pose – keep your feet hip-distance apart. Stay here and breathe.
With your knees still lifted, press the front of your thighs energetically up towards the ceiling as you lengthen your tailbone towards your heels. You may notice your naval center engaging as you do this. On your next inhale, lift your right foot 3 inches off the floor.
As you exhale, draw your knee towards your nose and round your spine like in Cat pose.
Inhale to extend your right leg straight back keeping your foot lifted off of the floor. Repeat this action for five full rounds on the right side.
Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
Return to plank and repeat this sequence with your left leg. Again, rest in Child’s Pose once you’ve completed both sides.
Building Your Way Up to Crow
Squat in the center of your mat with your feet together and heels lifted. Use your hands on the floor in front of you for support.
Separate your knees slightly wider than your shoulders and walk your hands forward toward the front edge of your mat. As you fold your torso forward between your legs, keep your chest moving forward as your hips and heels move energetically back in space to create balance. Draw your chin slightly toward your chest so the back of your neck lengthens. Stay here for 5 – 10 breaths.
To move toward balancing in Crow Pose, slide your hands back until they land one-hands-distance in front of your shoulders. Bend your elbows out to the side walls and begin to hug your knees in toward your upper arms. Root down through your palms and the base of your fingers as you shift your weight forward. The weight of your body will naturally begin to shift toward your hands and away from your feet.
On your next exhale, press the earth away from you with your hands as you activate your naval center and round your upper spine. Continue to hug your legs strongly into your upper arms. Maintain this work in your hands, naval and legs as you shift your gaze forward.
Play with lifting one foot away from the earth, then the other. If you’ve taken flight with both feet off of the earth, squeeze the inner edges of your feet together and spread your toes wide. Stay for a few breaths. To deepen the pose from here, continue to press your hands down into the earth, squeeze your legs into your arms then begin to straighten both arms.
When you are ready to come out of the pose, lower your feet gently back to the earth and come to rest in Child’s Pose.