One of my longest-lasting friendships started years ago when I spotted someone who had listed online a goal to “conquer bakasana.”
Bakasana is the crow pose. Being the yogic smart-aleck that I am, I promptly commented, well, bakasana is just one of many poses to conquer. My friend Vrinda and I were off to the start of a great friendship.
But even if you can’t get into crow—which is crouching, leaning forward and balancing on your hands—there’s something to be gained from an intermediate position—the slightly modified but easier half-crow––a nice shoulder and a hip joint opener.
Half-crow in three easy steps.
1. Drop to a crouching position with your palms together as pictured. This is known as malasana.
2. Lift your heels so you’re on the balls of the feet and ground your palms wider than your feet, with your arms straight. Please note that this is in contrast with the traditional crow pose, where your elbows remain bent and your hands rest on your mat narrower than your feet.
3. Tip more of your weight forward, so that with your shins are resting on your upper arms. The hands take about 60% of the body weight and your feet retain the other 40%. Take five or more slow breaths in this position.
Half-crow is a gentle but dynamic stretch to the upper back. Wrist strengthener without overkill. A better sense of how crow could work if you’ve never been able to master it, without the risk of slipping and having a close encounter of the percussive kind with the floor.
The range of motion in your hips prevents you from getting into the first position, your wrists feel challenged or your shoulders muscles ache, rather than stretch with this pose. In you experience any of these, skip completely. This already is the alternate pose to something more complex, so if this isn’t doable with comfort, your body will get more mileage out of a different position. View my visual yoga blog for other positions you can try.
For those of you who have already mastered the crow position, the half-crow will feel like a joke without a punchline. Yes, lean forward, feel the muscular engagement, and then what?
Where’s the punchline?
When do my feet come off the floor? Should I try lifting them anyway?
The answer is no.
You definitely should quit while you’re ahead. Or while you’re a half-crow.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock