I hear this all the time … “I’m not strong enough for crow pose.” And sometimes … SOMETIMES, that’s the case. But honestly, more often than a lack of arm or core strength, the limiting factor in crow pose is flexibility in the hips. Next time you want to work on crow pose – try focusing on strength a little less, and shift your prep work to your hips.
Here is some of my favorite hip prep work for crow pose. You could use this as a partial sequence, or sprinkle some of these poses into your home practice. See below for notes on each posture.
Notes are row by row, starting from left and moving right.
1. Eka Pada Apanasana – Both Sides
Hug your knee into your chest with any degree of rotation of the hip/knee out to the side. Prioritize deep flexion in the front of the hip – letting the leg truly and deeply drop into the belly. Allow your other leg to drop heavily into the ground.
2. Half Happy Baby – Both Sides
Your grounded leg can either be bent or straight on the floor. Allow your happy baby leg to drop toward the ground beside you – not through force, but through relaxing into the shape.
3. Childs Pose
This is the shape of crow pose … it’s just the easy version.
4/5. Cat Cow Lunge – Both Sides
With fingers on the ground or blocks – you’ll flow between two shapes in your lunge.
Inhale: bend the front knee, let your hips droop toward the ground, allow your heart to move forward like cow pose in the spine.
Exhale: Straighten the front leg, fold over your front leg and allow your spine to round like cat pose.
6. Lizard Pose – Both Sides
If you wanted to add some movement in here, you could find the cat/cow spine here as well.
7. Knee to Arm – Both Sides
You can find this shape from your lizard pose – or from down dog. Aim to get the knee to touch your arm – and get it as close to the arm pit as possible.
8. Humble Warrior
The arm variation doesn’t really matter so much here – clasp, shoulder width, holding a block – find one that works for you. What I’m interested in here is the action of folding/rounding forward inside that front leg – and getting comfortable with the head moving toward the ground, below the hips … because that’s going to have to happen in crow pose.
Drop it low 😉 Do the version with feet wide, toes angled out. Work your hands into prayer with your elbows pressing into the inner legs.
Here’s your strength work – finally. But we’re still working the hips as well. You know what makes this pose easier? The ability to deeply flex your hips into your belly so that you don’t leave them dangling low when you try to lift.
11. Crow – give it a try.
Bent arms, straight arms – that doesn’t matter so much. Try to get your knees above the elbows and close to the arm pits. Lift your hips. Look forward. Think happy, “I believe I can fly” thoughts. And then with an exhale, lift the feet. A blanket could be placed in front of you to act as a crash pad for your face if you’re nervous.
For more insights on working in crow pose, join me for my upcoming Flight Club Workshops which kick off on February 3rd. More info here.