Crow pose, it’s a fun challenging pose that is often the first arm-balance that yogis tackle. Upon first glance, it looks like an extremely arm-strength intensive pose, but you’d be pleasantly surprised that you’re wrong.
Crow or Crane pose is actually a very full-body pose that requires you to engage just about every part of your body to hold a shape, then lean into your arms to balance. It’s all about forming a center of gravity, distributing your weight properly, and finding balance as you lean into your arms.
The pose requires both flexibility and strength throughout your body to slowly lean into the position and find balance (without smashing your skull into the ground).
Requirements for Crow Pose
The “secret” to crow pose is making it a full-body exercise. That being said, to do crow pose without any modifications you’ll need a moderate level of strength and flexibility including:
- Hip flexibility
- Hip flexor strength
- Core strength
- Chest & Arm Strength
- Full-body coordination
Benefits of Crow Pose
Crow pose isn’t just fun, it has many benefits. First off, it strengthens your wrist, forearms, shoulders, and core. It also helps you build the confidence to pursue more advanced arm balances such as flying crow (one-legged crow) or even a handstand.
Lastly, it’s great for building your full-body awareness and balance, enhancing your body control and spatial awareness.
Step by Step Video Guide to Crow Pose
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If you’d prefer a written explanation here it is!
- Start in a low squat, reaching your tailbone down and tightening your abs.
- Come up on your toes, bringing your knees as close to your armpits as possible.
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground in front of you.
- Engage your arms by outwardly rotating your planted hands (wrapping the biceps forward)
- Keep a slight bend in your elbows
- Look forward, lengthening your chest
- Slowly lean forward, lifting one leg off the ground at a time.
- STAY ENGAGED, elbows are squeezing in, core is engaged, and heels are squeezing in towards the booty.
Modifications for Crow
Here’s some modifications to help you, if you just can’t seem to get into the pose.
Can’t Get Knees High Enough
As I said previously, crow pose requires some degree of hip strength and flexibility. If you’re struggling in this department, a good prop to help you along the way is a yoga block (preferably a cork one).
Modification 1: Use A Block Under Your Feet
Using a block and perching your feet on it brings the floor closer to your armpits. This small modification can help you enter crow more comfortably. As you develop the muscle memory, balance, and flexibility to perform crow with a block, you can progress into the pose without the block.
The Fear of Smashing Your Face into The Ground
Let’s face it, leaning forward and arm balancing can be intimidating. You have to commit to leaning forward, and one of the biggest risks is smashing your face into the ground. A quick modification and safeguard – a pillow or blanket.
Modification 2: Use A Pillow or Rolled up Blanket
Placing a cushion of some sort in front of your face can help you feel more confident to commit to the forward lean. Even if you do fall forward, the cushion will soften the blow. Crow isn’t as scary as it might look – I promise.
Just Can’t Do It?
If you’re struggling with crow to the point where it seems completely impossible, then it might be time to back off and go back to the basics.
This doesn’t mean you’re wasting time or you’re a quitter. Pursuing skills that you aren’t yet ready for can be dangerous and lead to injury.
That’s why the basics and developing the required strength and mobility to safely enter crow is important. A great resource for this is the Strength Foundations Challenge found in the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area. It’s a great introduction to the strength and mobility-focused yoga workouts found in MFY to develop a strong foundation of fitness. You can join the next challenge here!
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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