Pose of the Month: Crow Pose
Crow pose is a great posture for building strength in the core muscles as well as the upper body. Practice plank and crocodile first to build a good foundation for the shoulders and the core. Working your core does far more than just build strong muscles. When your core is strong, you feel strong. A powerful midsection enhances the qualities of the third chakra, manipura (solar plexus), strengthening willpower, personal power, determination, and discipline. Arm balances can be inserted when the body is thouroughly warmed up at the end of mountain II or in mountiain III if you are starting from a seated position. This pose is nice at the end of mountain II and then followed by standing balance postures.
Getting into Crow Pose: From forward fold, position the feet slightly wider than the hips and bend the knees, placing the palms flat on the floor in starfish hands in front of the shoulders. Drop the tailbone between the hips (lifting the heels as needed) Squeeze the inner thighs onto the triceps as you shift your weight smoothly onto the hands, and firmly contract the abdominal muscles by pulling the navel center toward the spine, allowing the entire back to round (similar to cat pose) Keep the gaze forward as you glide onto the hands with the elbows bending to less than 90 degrees (crocodile arms). The toes may still be resting on the floor or tucked up under the hips.
Holding the Pose: Let the feet gently lift on their own as you focus on creating more lift through the center of the body by squeezing the inner thighs onto the arms. Breathe into the space in the back, and keep a strong contraction through the abdominal muscles. Hold for three to five breaths, and then gently glide back and rest the feet on the mat.
Excerpt from the book YogaFit (3rd Edition) by Beth Shaw.