When I teach an arm balance class, I typically hear people comment on how their arms are not strong enough to arm balance, or their core is too weak. But I rarely hear people mention anything about their hips. Well here’s the good (and the bad) news – arm strength and core strength definitely play a role in building an arm balance. But the more open your hips are … and the more we prep the hips for poses such as crow pose, flying pigeon, firefly, etc. … the less demanding these poses will be for our arms and core.
How to do Crow Pose
Arm balances are a true representation of the balance of steadiness and ease, of strength and flexibility in our practice. After you put on your most confident pair of leggings (that aren't too slippery), here are tips to four poses that will prep your hips for Bakasana, Crow Pose.
1) Dead Crow Flow
Laying on your back with your arms reaching up over head. Inhale, bring your right knee into your chest, hands to the shin. Exhale, release. Inhale, left knee in your chest tightly, hands to the shin. Exhale, release. Inhale, both knees into your chest, reach your hands to the sky and try to find contact between your knees and the upper arms as your round your upper back off the ground for dead crow pose. Repeat 3 times.
2) Lizard with a Wing Span
Set your legs up for lizard with the back knee off the ground. Walk your arms out past your front foot and reach the arms wide. Energetically press the front shin into the back side of your arm, and hug your front hip down and in. Stay for 10-15 breaths each side.
3) Standing Splits Knee Tucks
From standing splits, make sure your hands are stable on the floor or blocks. Inhale, bring your lifted leg knee in your chest, rounding the spine and actively engaging your hamstring to pull the foot up towards the butt. For added challenge, try to take your knee to your arm pit. Exhale, kick the leg back. Repeat 5 times each side, with the breath.
4) Malasana – Crow Pose Variation
Malasana (squat) provides great prep work for crow pose, and not just because it sets us up close to the ground and ready to take flight on our arms. This pose gives us a space to relax into the deep flexion at hips and knees necessary for crow pose, while also finding the strength of our pelvic floor that is absolutely critical in taking flight.
In your malasana:
- Take elbows in front of your shins as though your arms are in crow pose. Allow your hips to drop toward the floor, but then find lift by energetically pressing your feet down and apart.
- Press your upper arms into your shins and round your upper back like cat pose – or crow pose. Stay for 10-15 breaths.
- From here, set your foundation for crow pose, gaze forward, tune into the breath and think happy, light thoughts as you take flight.
What are your thoughts on Crow Pose? Are you struggling with it or do you have any good tips finding your flight? Please comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
An Oregon yoga and SUP yoga teacher and creator of Yoga + Beer pairings,
Mikki Trowbridge aspires to both inform and inspire. She is known for her anatomically informed and soulfully inspired yoga classes that promise to be a little nerdy, but always fun, flowing and leave you feeling good. Her style creates space for all yogis, regardless of experience, to be challenged and to grow their practice, but also to find ease, confidence, laughter and yogi friends.