The secret to crow pose for beginners is to prepare for the asana with exercise and breath.
Crow pose (bakasana) is the common pose to give yogis their first experience with arm balances and the sensation of flying. It is not necessarily a beginners pose by any means…but it is a beginner arm balance pose.
Getting crow pose under your belt will help you accomplish…
- Getting comfortable with the sensation of flying
- Experience the feeling of your body weight being balanced on the hands and arms
- Strengthen your wrists and arms
- Smooth transitions into other arm balances
Before you learn how to get into crow pose, it’s important to prepare the body and mind for this pose.
Preparing for Crow Pose for Beginners
Here are five of my favorite exercises that will help beginners prepare for crow pose.
1. Upper body rotations
This exercise will help warm-up your hands, wrists, and upper body, preparing them for the full body weight they are about to support.
It also introduces you to the sensation of having the shoulders go PAST the wrists, which is what will happen in crow pose.
How to do upper body rotations
Come onto all fours (table top position) with knees hip width apart and stacked directly below the hips. Hands are shoulder width apart and stacked just below the shoulders.
Begin with weight evenly distributed between all 4 limbs.
Spreading the fingers wide and using all parts of the hand and fingers, start to make little rotations with the upper body.
Shift the weight from your right hand, forward into both hands. Then shift it to your left hand, and finally, relieve the weight from the hands as you shift the weight back into the legs.
The video below will demonstrate how to do upper body rotations as a preparation for crow pose for beginners.
2. Good ole’ fashion chaturanga dandasana (4-limbed staff pose)
This pose has several wonderful benefits.
Chaturanga is a foundation for moving through many new poses, including crow pose for beginners. It allows you to recognize correct angles of the arms for crow pose and practically every other arm balance. It also strengthens the arms, core, wrists, and lower back.
How to do chaturanga dandasana
Start off in plank position. Shift the weight forward into the toes so the chest goes past the wrists.
Lower yourself halfway down WHILE KEEPING THE ELBOWS IN TOWARDS THE RIBCAGE! (this is important)
You should have a nice straight line from root to crown.
Don’t let the shoulders drop lower than the elbows. Your arms should be at about a 90-degree angle.
That 90-degree angle arm position is the foundation of crow pose!
The video below will demonstrate how to do chaturanga dandasana as a preparation for crow pose for beginners.
3. Malasana (yoga squat)
Depending on how open you are in the hips, this pose will either be effortless or a pain in the arse (quite literally!).
Either way, the yoga squat is a common asana used to transition into crow pose, making it an ideal preparatory exercise for crow pose beginners. It’s also a wonderful hip opener.
How to do malasana
Step the legs apart about mat distance, (maybe even more depending on flexibility).
Start to get low, bringing the sit bones down while keeping the heels grounded.
If the heels lift, separate the feet a little more.
If you need assistance with this pose, you can stack some blocks to sit on.
Once you are down, place the hands in prayer and bring the thumbs to the heart. Use the strength of the elbows to push the legs open even further.
A proper malasana looks like this:
4. Preparing for flight
This pose will get you comfortable supporting your body weight with your hands. It will introduce you to the posture and angle of crow pose and develop a strong base for you to lift off.
It will also increase strength in the arms and wrists and can be used to prepare yourself for other arm-balances and even handstand.
How to prepare for flight
Place the hands flat on the earth about 6 inches in front of the feet.
Bend the elbows (keeping them in), creating a 90-degree angle with the arms. Basically, you are making a nice shelf for your knees to stack on top of.
Look forward and bend the knees, placing them as high on the arms as comfortable. Start to shift your weight forward into the hands, lifting the heels, and coming onto the toes.
Keep weight distributed on all parts of hands including the fingertips. Your shoulders will go past the wrists.
Hold the weight forward, breathe and experience the feeling of the body weight in the hands.
You can move back and forth with this exercise, shifting the weight forward into the hands and then shifting the weight back and relieving the weight. Back and forth, back and forth.
The video below will demonstrate how to prepare for flight and get ready for crow pose.
You are practically in crow pose with this exercise alone, all you gotta do is lift the feet…which brings me to the final exercise.
5. Lifting the feet
Doing this exercise will get you familiar with the flying sensation and increase your balance and strength in the arms and core.
How to lift the feet in preparation for crow pose for beginners
You are going to follow the same setup from the preparing for flight exercise, with one exception.
Once your knees are on top of your 90-degree arms, you are going to lift one leg, squeeze the thighs and reach the lifted foot towards the buttocks. Place the foot down and repeat on the other side.
You can play with this lifting one foot at time and then the other until you feel ready to lift both feet and…TADA!
You are flying!
Below is a demonstration of the lifting the feet exercise in preparation for crow pose for beginners.
Important Tips for Crow Pose for Beginners
- LOOK FORWARD. Your gaze (drishti) influences where the body goes. If you look down, you will go down. Look past the fingertips.
- Keep those chaturanga arms! 90-degree angle, elbows in. No chicken wing arms.
- Once both feet are lifted, work on bringing the toes together and moving the feet towards the buttocks.
- Above all, BREATHE. Everything is easier when you breathe.
Demonstration of the Crow Pose for Beginners
When you have mastered the exercises leading to crow pose, and finally, crow pose itself…you may want to try something a little more challenging, like going from crow pose into headstand.
The secret to successfully mastering crow pose as a beginner is to practice each piece of the move with these five exercises. Remember, every yogi experiences a pose for the very first time and the way to master it is practice and breathe.