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Don’t let the diminutive title of Baby Crow Pose—or, as it has been dubbed, Baby Bakasana—mislead you. The challenging forearm balance with the wee name does still requires ample strength, effort, and self-awareness. Perhaps as much as or even more than its namesake pose.
Think Forearm Plank is a challenge? You can thank it, actually, for your ability to come into this pose. The strengthening that plank has been working in your upper body and core has prepared you.
What exactly is Baby Crow?
The pose is relatively uncommon in studio classes and can’t be traced to traditional yoga practices or lineages. Even its title is something of a misnomer given that there is a significant difference between it and its namesake Crow Pose (Bakasana), despite some similarities. Baby Crow requires balancing on your forearms with elbows bent and heels drawn toward your hips, whereas Crow asks you to support yourself by pressing your hands into the ground and stacking your joints.
It’s entirely feasible that Baby Crow’s resemblance to Bakasana may well be by chance and that Baby Crow instead came into existence as an accessible modification for the advanced forearm balance Karandavasana (Duck Pose), which is identical to Baby Crow in the upper body although demanding of far more finesse in the lower body. Instead of simply rocking your weight forward onto your forearms, you initially come into Pincha Mayurasana, a forearm balance with straight legs extended upward and then, because that’s not sufficiently challenging, you fold your legs into Lotus position before slowly lowering your still-crossed legs onto your upper arms and settle into a pretzeled take on Baby Crow.
Baby Crow is, however, undeniably easier than Duck Pose, as it allows you to avert yourself from the leg wrangling, the rather intense hip-opening, and the inversion component. Perhaps think of the posture less as a wee Bakasana and more as Karandavasana with training wheels.
Is Baby Crow Pose easier than Crow Pose?
That depends on you.
Psychologically speaking, some students find the face-to-floor distance of Baby Crow Pose more reassuring and less intimidating than that of Crow Pose, in which your face is a greater distance—and, hence, a harder crash—from the floor. That said, your face can tend to be perilously close to the ground during Baby Crow Pose.
Physically, each pose places a lot of demand on your shoulders and arms and requires a fair amount of abdominal strength and stability, though in somewhat different ways, despite the seeming similarity between them. Baby Crow requires more arm strength whereas Crow demands more core stability. As you learn to come into the posture, you’ll hone each of these attributes.
Perhaps what’s more relevant isn’t which one is physically easier but rather observing how each feels in your body and coming to self-awareness in terms of what you may want to strengthen. Let the pose inspire you to self-assess a little.
See also: 3 Ways to Get Into Crow Pose
What are the benefits of Baby Crow Pose?
That self-awareness is an unexpected boon. One of the essential areas to bring your awareness to is your shoulders. You’ve been trained in yoga to maintain your shoulders over your elbows in arm balances. Taking your shoulders forward past your elbows, as in Baby Crow, not only feels sorta wrong, it can easily turn into the dread “dumping” in your shoulders that teachers often chide us not to do.
The action you want to take to counteract dumping is to keep your upper outer arms strongly drawing in toward the center of your mat and your shoulders and core resisting the tendency to dump or descend toward the mat. As you practice this pose, you will need to be vigilant in catching yourself. That and the strengthening of your upper body are benefits.
Also, practicing Baby Crow will stretch your forearms and back in ways that will benefit you in other yoga poses, as well as everyday life.
See also: 8 Yoga Poses to Ease Lower Back Pain
OK, so how do I get into Baby Crow Pose?
1. Warm up your body
It’s essential that you prime your spine, shoulders, and hips for Baby Crow. As a warmup, you’ll want to go through many or even all of the following poses, preferably interspersed with standing poses, such as a Warrior Dance.
To begin to come into Baby Crow, stay in Malasana (Garland Pose) and balance on the balls of your feet with your big toes touching. Separate your knees and walk your hands out in front of you until your arms are straight. Release your forehead toward the mat and let your heels lower toward the mat behind you. Remain here for 8 breaths.
2. Place your forearms in position
Stay low from Step 1 and just walk your hands in and place your forearms onto the mat parallel to each other. Wrap your knees around the upper outer edges of your arms. Spread all your fingers evenly and ground down on both sides of your wrists. Let your gaze remain slightly past your fingertips and begin to lean forward, actively drawing your knees as high as you can on your upper arms.
3. Continue to lean forward
Continue to learn forward so your face draws closer to the ground. It will feel as though you are folding your biceps onto your forearms. Be careful not to lift your elbows—they should stay flat on the mat the entire time. Once you lean forward, resist letting the weight of the legs let you collapse in your arms or shoulders by engaging your shoulders. Start to point just your left foot so it comes off the mat. (If you’re so close to the ground you can’t lift it, simply point it instead).
4. Come into Baby Crow Pose
Continue to squeeze your knees around your arms as you lean forward a pinch more and point your second foot so both feet are now off the ground. Round your upper back, firm your elbows down, lift your core away from the mat, and keep your gaze slightly forward without any strain on your neck. If you can, lift up through your core and draw your heels toward your bum. Keep your toes pointed. Try to round your upper back as if you could sprout wings out of your shoulder blades. Once you get into the full pose it may not feel “right,” and if your face is so darn close to the ground you may not be able to “lift up” into the pose. That’s OK. Simply point your toes and you’ll be feeling the pose even if you’re not off the ground. Stay here for up to 5 breaths, then release your feet to the ground.
Kathryn Budig is an international yoga teacher who teaches online at Glo.
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