Learning to Fly: A Thirteen Year Relationship with Crow Pose

Via Donna Freeman
on Mar 2, 2011
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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.


About 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


16 Responses to “Learning to Fly: A Thirteen Year Relationship with Crow Pose”

  1. Trish Adkins says:

    Love it. Funny, I just wrote about crow pose–I had tried to always muscle into it or more, accurately, fling myself into it with my enormous ego weighing me down. It took a good teacher for me too–to just explain it to me (and a whole lot of failure.).

  2. Nancy A says:

    love it.. and the videos too. congrats winged lady!

  3. fivefootwo says:

    ooo! Thankyouthankyou.

  4. sadienardini says:

    wow–I'm so honored by your wonderful post, Donna! Coming from someone who had to work that sucker from the ground up, not being naturally skilled at arm balances–or any yoga pose, for that matter–I understand what a major achievement on all levels this is for you. Congratulations, not just for achieving it, but for all the dedication it took to get there along the way. I am glad to have been any part of it, and I thank you for sharing these tips with others, so they may fly from the foundation and core of themselves, as both you and I have learned to do.

  5. Sadie – you know you rock my yoga world – your videos are so helpful. Keep 'em coming, gorgeous!

  6. I loved reading this Donna, it took me 10 years to do crow. I started to learn crown during my first marriage in which I wasn't happy and I was emotionally stalled. As soon as I got out of that marriage and into a relationship with my now husband BOOM! I could fly.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Terra says:

    This is soooo encouraging, Thank You!!!! I am only two months into my yoga journey, and decided I want to master the crow pose. Of course it will take some time, but I practice frequently. AND I am determined to master it!!!

    Thank you,



  8. Love this, Donna, and the way you make a life lesson out of learning a pose.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  9. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  10. luckyelevens says:

    I love this so much!

  11. Leaving the ego at the door is the sign of a great teacher. I can just picture the kids in hysterics as you crumble to the floor – wonderful! Seeing adults 'fail' and pick themselves back up to try again is such an inspiration to children. Thank you for being the kind of teacher who inspires through actions as well as words.

  12. Jacqueline says:

    It took me 13 years too! 13 has always been my lucky number. Crow has been my favorite ever since my first flight. Great post!

  13. […] thinking that as soon as they see x, y and z they will love it as much as we do. It is important to take a step back and remember that we didn’t receive the benefits of our practice all at […]

  14. […] the first time you rocked Half Moon Pose, Crow Pose or another pose you’d been working on? I do! Keep that feeling in mind at school. Be confident that you can meet any challenge. Be your best, […]

  15. Geoff says:

    Thank you sooooo moch!

  16. Maria says:

    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.