It is also the fool-proof check whether or not you have been doing Chaturanga correctly. If yes, then Crow will fall into place easier than expected. If not, then you may experience unsteadiness and a fear of falling on your face. Because of this, I encourage students to try for Crow early into class, and especially early into their yoga practice.
You don’t need years of yogic experience to find your Crow; you just need courage and alignment. Here are five yoga poses that’ll help you prepare for Crow pose and lift off.
Because Chaturanga is the basis of Crow, take some time to make sure you are doing yours correctly. You can use a mirror, ask a teacher, or self-assist with a strap tightened in a loop around the upper forearms, just below the elbows.
How to Do It: Starting in plank, shift forward onto the tips of your toes so that your chest passes your wrists. Bend your elbows in toward your sides and lower halfway down. Important: Your elbows must hug in towards your side, making contact with the ribs. Do not let your elbows splay out sideways.
Use your triceps to dip the elbows backwards. The biceps make a right angle with the forearms as your chest hovers above the earth. The chest does not pass the elbows. This right here – these right-angle arms, elbows hugging in – is the base of Crow. Hold for three breaths.
How to Do It: From Downward Dog, step your right foot between your hands. Lower your back knee to the earth. Since we’re focusing on the stretch in this one, place your hands on top of your right thigh, pressing the leg forward so your pelvis can release down and slide in front of your back, left knee.
Find a place that is uncomfortable, NOT painful, and hold for three to five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
3. Prasaritha Padottanasana
An unexpected addition to Crow preparation, but necessary to simulate the sensations of Crow. Focus on how you react to being upside-down. As your Crow advances and your sit bones lift higher, your body will also tilt upside down as your hips lift higher than the head.
How to Do It: Step your feet to either end of your mat with your toes slightly inverted, heels outward. Bring your hands to your hips and pull up on your kneecaps to contract the quadriceps. Hinge at the hips, lowering with a flat back, until, at the last minute, you place your hands on the ground (or blocks) underneath the shoulder blades.