March 2, 2011

Learning to Fly: A Thirteen Year Relationship with Crow Pose

Thirteen years. It took thirteen years for me to finally figure out crow pose.

I primarily teach yoga to kids and teens, and when I tell them this their eyes get big as they do some quick math and realize it took me longer to learn this pose than most of them have been alive.

So, what took me so long? I could blame it on the fact that I was never in a class where the teacher took the time to explain the details of the pose, if we even attempted arm balances. Or, it could be the three shoulder dislocations and subsequent surgery to shorten the ligaments. (Gotta love life’s detours.) Or maybe it was my mental approach, always thinking “This is a tough one” or “Why can’t I get this?” which set me up for failure without even knowing it.

However, I never gave up. I was intrigued with the idea of crow pose, all arm balances in fact. They are so graceful, so powerful and simply defy gravity. I wanted that in my life. So I kept at it, picking up techniques here and there. I continued to teach crow pose but found that the students who could achieve it were those who could figure out the physics and balance on their own. You know those who naturally just pop right up. I celebrated their success while working on my own.

Finally, I found two videos, one by Sadie Nardini, the other by Shana Meyerson which both taught me elements of crow pose which led to my first flight. I’ll pass them on hoping that you too can benefit from these master teachers.

A solid foundation, knees and arms actively working and pressing against one another, looking up to where you want to be, and going “one inch past scary.” Yeah! Nothing like learning to fly after thirteen years of practice.

Not surprisingly most kids, and especially the teens, love crow pose. They are amazed when they use the techniques and are able to support their body on their own two hands. Their faces light up with joy every time. There are always a few who continue to struggle, but I don’t let them give up. I’ve been there.

I love to teach crow pose to children and teenagers. I tell them of my personal struggles and ask what would happen if I had given up after one year, five years, ten years? I explain that often life is discovering the small details which combine to allow you do things in your own way and time; that if you really want something to NEVER give up on your dreams but keep at it, learning, growing and eventually you too will be able to fly.

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Maria Apr 15, 2015 5:08pm

I am not a yoga person at all but I nailed the crow (forward and both side crows) on my first attempt. I have no idea why it came so easy to me. I didn't think of any technique or anything. I just felt my way into it and it worked immediately.

Geoff Jan 25, 2013 5:48pm

Thank you sooooo moch!

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Donna Freeman

Teacher, author and expert on yoga for kids and teens, Donna Freeman firmly believes that yoga can be done anywhere, by anyone, at anytime. She grew up in British Columbia, Canada but was introduced to yoga while living in Cape Town, South Africa during her nomad years. She is currently learning acroyoga with her kids and enjoys practicing tadasana while pumping gas or washing dishes. Bob Weisenberg describes her book Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children as indispensible. For more about yoga for kids and teens visit her website yogainmyschool.com or the Yogainmyschool.com facebook page