I am just so chuffed that I can finally hold my body in yoga crow pose!
One of my goals for 2017 is unsupported handstand and researching the best ways to train for handstands I discovered that it’s good to master crow pose first so that’s what got me started with it.
But it wasn’t completely new to me, for around 10 years I regularly went to yoga classes and progressed pretty well. But whenever crow pose came up it was always beyond what my body could do.
This was before I was a fitness trainer. Back then I didn’t see the value in training for crow, so I’d just curl up in child’s pose instead. Being able to balance on my hands with my ass in the air just didn’t seem that useful to me.
Turns out I was mistaken.
Crow was hard for me to learn, very hard, because I have always had tight hamstrings, right since childhood, and this was compounded by an old lower back injury which left me with stiffness in the lumbar spine.
But those were also among the reasons training for crow has been so beneficial for me.
For many years I’ve done some work on my hamstring flexibility almost daily – seriously, they’re so tight I wouldn’t be able to exercise the way I do otherwise and I’d have back pain.
But fixing my sights on mastering crow got me really serious about increasing, not just maintaining, my hamstring and hip mobility.
It also drove me to get myofascial release massage treatment on my lower back.
Plus, despite the fact my core was already strong enough to do some highly advanced core focussed exercises, it showed me that some of the deep core muscles (probably the psoas) involved in Crow were actually quite weak.
Not only do I now have a lot more hamstring and hip flexibility and mobility, less stiffness in the lower back and a stronger core, I also have stronger wrists, triceps, shoulders, chest and upper back.
I can see the difference in the mirror as well as feeling it when I do almost all types of exercises – from press-ups, to lifting weights, to running!
Convinced? You should be!
First up though, be aware that this is an advanced exercise. If you’re still working on being able to hold a straight arm plank for longer than a minute now is not the time for you to progress to crow. That said, you could make still benefit from doing some of the preparatory moves in the video below.
This video shows just a few of the stretches, strengthening exercises and modifications I used to help me work up to crow.
It’s worth noting that I can get a LOT deeper into the stretches now compared to when I started this, so don’t be disheartened if the positions are beyond you right now, they were for me a few months ago too.
Yep, I said months. I have known people be able to hop into crow pose the first time they tried. My husband for one. But for some of us, it’s a longer road. Comparisons are not helpful, just focus on your own journey.
I have read that women often find it harder because we tend to hold more weight around our hips and thighs which affects our centre of gravity. This makes sense to me! However, there are women (and men) of all shapes and sizes out there nailing crow pose (Valerie Sagan’s Insta is super-inspiring).
Spending a few minutes daily, or as often as you can, on exercises like these will enable you to get the strength, flexibilty and control crow pose requires.
(Obviously this video is speeded up – keep that in mind!)
I’m still working on arm balances and very much enjoying the journey. If you’d like more guidance from me in crow pose stay tuned because I have something coming up you might like. ?