Meet the gateway arm balance.
In the ‘Hard Yoga Poses Made Easy’ series, we focus on a particular yoga pose or skill that seems (or is) very difficult and we make it a lot easier by breaking it down into actionable, realistic, and sequential steps.
This tutorial focuses on crow pose, which is often one of the first arm balances for anyone just starting out with yoga.
I love teaching this pose to athletes because it opens a whole new world for them. For most athletes, their athletic world can be pretty rigid with training and practice making up most of their experience. So, when they don’t get it at first but feel that moment of balancing on their hands, they start acting like little kids and want to try it again, and again, and again.
There’s something special about this pose that I can’t quite put my finger on. It requires enough technique, body awareness, and strength to make it interesting and, once mastered, becomes a platform of all kinds of new arm balances and transitions.
“Crow” can be considered a whole family of poses that branch out from it and, to open that door for you, I broke the pose into five simple steps that build on one another as you work towards the full pose (which is technically called “crane” pose, a straight-armed variation of crow).
Here are the steps:
- Crow on your back: Develop core strength and begin to understand the shape without worrying about falling flat on your face.
- Chaturanga: Nail the technique of the transition from plank pose to chaturanga and you’ll develop the strength and (more importantly) the awareness of the actions in the body required to hold crow for a long time.
- Blocks: By using blocks we can (figuratively) elevate the floor and give our feet a platform for shifting weight into our hands in a crow shape. This is a perfect middle step as it makes falling on your face less likely and reduces the fear of arm balancing.
- No Blocks: Once you’re comfortable with the blocks (training wheels) you can remove them and start working into crow pose (aka bent-elbow crane pose).
- Crane: Full crane pose requires a lot of body awareness and, sneakily, a good deal of wrist flexibility. In a lot of ways, it’s just a more intense and demanding crow pose, so make sure you have steps 1-4 down before attempting this little number.
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