Teacher's Notebook: Crow Pose
Ready to spice up your yoga classes with some arm balances but not quite sure how to prepare your students for the challenge? Start with Crow Pose, a posture that students of all levels can practice and have some success with.
The main elements of Crow
Adductor (inner thigh) strength
Shoulder strength (particularly protraction)
Core strength (specifically rectus abdominis aka our 6-pack abs)
The most challenging element:
Weight bearing on the wrists
Begin class with the Standing or Supine Warm-Up and Sun Salutations. As you move the class into Mountain 2, sprinkle these elements throughout class to help everyone get ready for the strength Crow Pose requires.
Test the Wrists
Begin on All Fours or in Standing Forward Fold. Slowly shift the body’s weight forward until shoulders come over the fingertips. If anyone experiences pain or discomfort in these prep poses, then a fully balanced Crow is probably too intense for today.
Build the Strength
Focus on inner thigh strength by cueing a Mountain–Chair Flow using the Core Ball in between the thighs. This brings awareness and awakens the strength of the adductors.
Cue Cat Pose as a stand-alone pose and invite students to hold the pose for five full breaths to give the same sensation as holding the body in a fully balanced Crow.
While on All Fours, do some shoulder push-ups emphasizing the work in the full protraction. We will need this strength as we lean into the pose.
Find the Balance
To bring awareness to the inner strength of the core, cue Tree Pose just before moving into Crow. Point out the balance, the inner thigh strength as well as the abdominal work here.
Let it fly!
Begin in Forward Fold with hands on the mat (similar to Down Dog); bring the knees up close to the armpits and as high on the outside edges of the arms as possible. (This outside-edge knee placement will set us up to use adductor strength in a moment.)
Lean forward, allowing the shoulders to come towards the fingertips as the gaze shifts slightly in front of the hands. Cue your students to pay attention to their wrists as they shift the weight to make sure their wrists can bear the weight.
Slowly lean forward more, hugging the thighs into the arms to create a strong connection between the arms and legs. Actively draw the spine into flexion by contracting the rectus abdominis.
Invite your students to experiment with lifting one foot off the mat, and then switching to the other. If they feel ready to try the full balance, invite them to continue leaning forward in the arms until the feet begin to float away from the floor. And then gently release back down to the mat.
It’s amazing how accessible some poses can be when we break down the elements of the pose and prepare for each one before we put them all together. Enjoy using these tips the next time you teach Crow!