How to Side Crow: Yoga Poses Made Easy

Where twisting meets arm balancing (and fun is had)

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.

Side crow is a fun pose to teach because it’s more accessible than a lot of other arm balancing poses and it also has a lot of elements coming together to make the pose happen.

There is a bit of a ‘cheat’ in this pose and, sadly, the cheat has become a pretty common way for people to get into this pose for the first time. Many teachers will offer the option to “create a shelf” with both elbows, allowing you to rest your body weight on your elbows instead of getting the full experience of the pose.

In this tutorial and progression, we won’t cheat. Instead, we’ll begin with simpler versions of the pose, master them, and then earn the ability to do the pose the right way.

For athletes, this is an amazing progression to work through as it develops dynamic core strength that emphasizes stabilizing a twist, as opposed to momentuming (made up word) through a bunch of bicycle crunches that seem like they’re doing more for you than they actually are.

There are also some pretty cool leg variations you can take, which I’ll also show you at the end of this progression of steps:

  1. Side Crow on your back: For twisting core strength and building muscle memory of the shape of the pose.
  2. Chair Pose: To start feeling what it’s like to hold a twist in a physically-demanding pose that’s not an arm balance.
  3. Get a Feel: To start feeling what it’s like to approach the pose without cheating. This one is really important because it’s very tempting to cheat and avoid the full enchilada.
  4. Start to Lift: To start feeling what it’s like to hold a twist in a physically-demanding arm balance. This one combines steps 2 and 3 to give you a very solid foundation for step 5.
  5. Full Side Crow: Now, you’re ready for the full pose and you don’t have to cheat. You’ve earned your core strength and body awareness, so I’ll also give you some fun little leg variations to play with as well!

Start using yoga to live athletically:

Yoga for Athletes - The Ultimate Guide

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About the Author:

Joe is the Founder of Icewater Yoga. Fascinated by the intersection of yoga and sport, his goal is to help athletes develop a consistent yoga practice. He lives in Claremont, CA with his wife, Jill.