It took me 8 months to learn crow pose and now that I can do it, I realize that I could have done it a lot earlier, I just didn’t understand it. If you have read any of my other posts, you will know that I always stress the importance of understanding a pose. Overthinking is such a common problem and yoga helps us to overcome overthinking (on and off the mat).
When you see someone in crow pose, it might look easy(or not) but as soon as you try to do it, you have no idea how it is even possible. There are two asanas: crow and crane, many times they are considered one pose and in most yoga classes they will not differentiate between the two. Crow is considered an arm-balancing pose, while crane is considered an inversion. Let’s look at crow pose for beginners, or rather crane pose (Bakasana) for beginners:
Kakasana vs Bakasana
As I explained, Crow is an arm balance and Crane is an inversion, meaning that the muscular engagement is different.
The Crane – Bakasana
A crane is considered a graceful, majestic and patient bird, he waits (head down) for his prey to come to him.
So mimicking the crane, look down, place your knees on the back of your triceps, almost in your armpits. Hips are lifted high and you work towards straightening your arms.
When attempting this pose, you need to have very strong triceps in order to straighten your arms. Awareness of the muscle located under the arms on the side body called the ‘serratus anterior’, will enable you to stabilize your shoulders as well as straighten your arms. Some hip flexibility is also necessary, in order to bring the knees that high up and of course core strength will enable you to stabilize and balance.
Even though this is considered a beginner’s inversion pose, it is quite challenging and takes a lot of practice for some. It took me a long time to do this asana as I struggled with upper body and core strength.
The crow – Kakasana
Different to a crane, crows spend a lot of their time flying and looking for prey. Instead of looking directly down, they gaze forward.
In crow pose we keep our hips low and gaze forward instead of down, mimicking the crow. In this asana the knees move to the outside of the triceps(to look like wings), while the inner thighs squeeze against the outer arms, you aim to keep your hips parallel to the floor and your upper body quite close to the floor. In this pose your arms are bent with your elbows above your wrists – the same as in chaturanga. This asana relies on the relationship between the biceps, triceps and inner thighs as well as core strength. This pose is not an inversion, but an arm balancing pose.
Next time someone instructs crow, they may very well mean crane pose – not knowing that they are in fact two different asanas. So make sure you know which one they really mean.
The Inversion Excursion
So in fact, we are going to attempt crane pose and not crow as the title suggests. This might be your first attempt to do an inversion and it may or may not be intimidating to you. I find inversions quite scary and it has been a long mental battle for me. If this is unlike you – that is great! You may find it quite easy, but if you are like me and find inversions scary, don’t worry! Crane pose is a great pose for a first inversion and definitely less of a risk than headstand for example.
The benefits of inversions
– Improves circulation of oxygen and blood to the brain which results in a clear mind and a more energized body.
– Stimulates the Endocrine and Nervous Systems which controls growth and development.
– Improves core strength, stability and balance.
– Stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps with detoxifying the body.
– Inversions are humbling but can also help you to build confidence.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 9 months now and even though I practice at least five days a week, I didn’t focus on inversions that much. In the past I didn’t feel the need for them, but I have reached a point in my practice, where I would like to focus on them now. I found a fantastic 7-day challenge to master the crow(crane) pose. More about this in my next post.
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