Have you been seeing arm balances all across your social media feeds and wanting to try one for yourself? Crow pose is a perfect one to start with!
It requires a great deal of core strength and squeezing everything in to the mid line, but these 5 preparatory poses will walk you through each of the key component of this impressive arm balance. Keep practicing and you will be ready to show off your neat party trick at a summer BBQ or pool party in no time! **Please do be careful and nail it on your mat first**
These prep poses and your first crow attempt come from my recent video, Power Vinyasa Intermediate Yoga Workout. If you want to practice along with me head on over there.
Grab 1 block, or even a cushion or book, and prepare for liftoff.
1. Hamstring Stretch with Curl Up – Pull the knees into the chest, curl your head and shoulders off of the mat. Extend the left leg out, flexing into the heel and keeping it lifted a couple of inches off of the mat. Press the low back down into the floor. Extend the right leg skyward, flexing into both feet. With your fingertips, reach towards the left foot (towards, not touching). Hold here. Continue trying to open legs further away from one another. After a reasonable hold here, exhale to switch legs while staying lifted. Scissoring the legs back and forth a few times. Rest flat on the back and start over with the left leg reaching up and right leg long for the hold. Repeat the scissoring action.
2. Reclined Crow Pose – This will allow you to feel the engagement and shape involved in this pose, while laying safely on the ground. Hug the knees in, bringing them wide, towards the armpits. Keep the toes touching while your knees are wide, to help with the action of squeezing into the mid-line. Press the thighs in toward the belly. Reach the hands up, between the knees, flexing at the wrist, as if you are pressing the palms into the ceiling above. Curl the head and shoulders up from the mat, continuing to reach, reach, reach through the palms. Squeeze the knees and thighs in on the triceps. Feel your core strength building, preparing you to do this pose off of the ground.
3. Cat/Cow with Balance – After a few rounds of standard cat and cow, return to table top pose. From here, extend the right leg long. Firm up the belly, lean onto the right hand and extend the left arm up, with the bicep along the ear. Hold steady here, with your glute and shoulder engaged. Keep the neck long. Bend the right leg and return the left hand to the floor. On your inhale, press into the raised heel, lifting the leg, as you arch your back in a variation of cow pose. As you exhale, contract – bringing the knee towards the chest and rounding the back in this cat variation.
4. Laying Triangle Pose – Starting from downward dog, we will first do some leg and core work. Kick the right leg up to three-legged dog, keeping the hips square to the mat. As you exhale, float forward into plank, drawing the knee towards the nose. Inhale your way back to three-legged dog. Exhale to plank, this time bringing your right knee to your right shoulder or tricep. Inhale to three-legged dog, then exhale right knee across the body towards the left arm. Extend the right leg towards the left, dropping the outer edge of right foot to the floor. Rolling to the inner edge of your left foot, push into the right hand firmly as you raise the left arm up to the sky. Pushing into both feet will help your hips come up higher. Complete this whole flow on the opposite side.
5. Standing Pigeon – Come up to standing at the front of your mat. Shift the weight into the right leg, as you lift the left foot from the mat. Cross the left ankle over top of the right thigh. Flex the left foot. As you bend the right knee, reach the hips back and lean the heart forward. Bring your hands together at heart center, looking down just in front of you for balance. Repeat this on the other leg.
6. Crow Pose – Now you are ready for your first attempt at crow pose. Coming into a squat, turn toes out and heels in. Bring the elbows inside of the knees and hands together at the heart. Use the elbows to open the knees wider. Find lift and length in the chest and upper body in this yogi squat. Place your hands on the mat in front of you at shoulder width. From here rise up a bit, lifting the heels from the mat and onto your tip toes. Bend the elbows and lean your knees as high up the arms as you can. Start to rock the weight forward. If you have a block handy (or a big book), lean your forehead onto it as you play with lifting the feet from the mat. Start with one foot at a time to get comfortable. Looking about six inches in front of the palms while you play around. Squeeze everything in here, hugging into the pose. If you fall out of if, shake it off and try again. Carefully lower down to a squat.
Having trouble figuring out the steps without seeing the play by play? Watch the video below.
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