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Ever try a yoga pose and feel like your body just doesn’t make that shape? Erin Motz (a.k.a. the Bad Yogi) has 3 ideas to help you rock Crow Pose.
The first time getting into Crow Pose (aka Crane) is special for a lot of people, and it definitely was for me. It was the first arm balance I ever achieved in a yoga class, and I’ll never forget that completely capable feeling of being equal parts strong and flexible. For the first time, instead of feeling like a fumbling newbie, I felt like my body was actually capable of some of the amazing things I’d seen other yogis do. The simple act of trying and kind of getting it gave me the confidence to keep at it. Confidence is often half the battle in yoga and exactly what we need to work past a lot of our roadblocks. Try these three modifications to cultivate a can-do attitude, instill hope, and motivate yourself to keep practicing.
How to Get Into Crow Pose
Before we get into the fears and frustrations associated with this pose, let’s look at the simple mechanics.
To come into Crow Pose from standing, squat down and place your hands flat on your mat about shoulder-width apart with the fingers spread wide. Now, keep the hands and feet where they are but lift the hips way up toward the sky, bend the knees and lift the heels off the floor so just the balls of the feet are down. Gently press the knees in to the backs of the triceps and begin to shift your weight into the fingertips, picking one foot at a time off the floor. Bend the elbows if necessary for balance. Use the core to draw the navel in toward the spine to stabilize and find that “lift” in the center of the body that eventually allows you to straighten the elbows and hold. Be sure to bring your gaze just between the hands to maintain balance.
Now let’s look at where it’s often easy to derail…
Frustration: “I can’t get my knees high enough to lift up!”
Modification 1: Block under feet
Enter the pose as described in the last slide, but start by perching yourself up on a block. This brings the floor closer to your triceps makes it easier get your knees up there. Practice lifting one foot at a time off your block, playing with that until it feels comfortable. When lifting either foot feels good, you’ll inevitably want to try lifting both at the same time. Stay as light in the feet as possible as you prepare to lift off, avoiding dropping weight into your backside. Instead lean in to the hands and have no fear! Once you’ve mastered the pose from the block, try the same one-foot-at-a-time approach without the perch.
Fear: “But what if I face-plant?!”
Modification 2: Block under forehead
The biggest fear in Crow? The face-plant! When you’re trying to find your center of gravity, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of your focal point and fall forward. Before you come into Crow, place a foam block about 4–5 inches in front of your fingertips at the center of your mat. As you practice coming into Crow, let yourself lean forward without fear, knowing your forehead will touch a squishy block before hitting the mat or hardwood. Much nicer, trust me! This modification not only creates a safety net but also quickly gives you feedback when you’re slightly off center. Play it safe without missing out on the fun of trying.
Frustration: “I just can’t do it.”
Modification 3: The Almost-Crow
Let’s be perfectly honest…is this Crow? Technically, no. But let’s remember the most important element of progress: Confidence. The first time we “get” Crow it’s usually some variation of this, and that’s OK! It may not be the full expression of the traditional pose, but I’d fully encourage you to permit yourself to deviate from perfection while you find your bearings. To try it, enter the pose as instructed in the first slide, but bend your elbows deeply, shift the weight forward and let yourself be weighted straight down to the middle so your body rests squarely on the arms. Lowering your center of gravity makes balancing a breeze. It’ll help you conquer the fear of arm balancing and you’ll be well on your way to practicing this pose regularly and adding others to your repertoire.
What’s most important is enjoying the ride. A pose is only new to you once, so buckle up and savor the moment.
ABOUT ERIN MOTZ
Listen, I’m not your traditional yogi: I’m the carnivorous, red wine, and French cheese-loving type and I teach vinyasa flow. My aim is to keep my classes fun and accessible, both in the studio and online. You won’t hear much Sanskrit, I totally forgive you if you don’t know your asana from your elbow, and I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone, from the kale-loving vegan to the prize-winning deer hunter. I may be a Bad Yogi, but if I’m being totally honest, teaching yoga has been one of my greatest pleasures; I practice to feed my teaching, but I teach to feed my life.—Erin Motz