6 Days to Crow Pose - Guest Post by Cat


Happy Saturday friends! Today I am super excited to introduce my friend, Cat. I know Cat through Tumblr and over time we became good friends. She is also part of the yoga group that hosts monthly yoga challenges. This month is called #PoseByPose. I will let her talk more about it! I hope you enjoy.

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#PoseByPose was all about making tricky poses accessible to everyone. A lot of the time we see these perfect pictures floating around and it feels like we’ll never get there. It’s easy to forget about all the hard work that goes into making something look simple. So we decided to break these poses down to highlight what was going on and encourage people to build up to them safely. I was really excited to kick off this month’s challenge, especially because I chose to feature one of my favorite poses. I chose to build up to Crow because it’s a really versatile pose that gets more fun the more comfortable you become with it. On top of that, it was the first arm balance I was able to do, so it seemed like a natural choice.

My first attempts at getting into Crow were a total disaster. I couldn’t get my balance, I face planted, my wrists hurt, I couldn’t get my feet off the ground. I didn’t understand how some people made it look so effortless. I thought I had decent upper body strength so I just didn’t get it. So I started breaking it down and learned that while Crow takes a strong upper body, it also requires a strong core and open hips. So I started paying more attention to building these strengths in my practice until it clicked.

Day 1 – Plank.
I chose plank because it’s a great all body pose. If you do it right, nearly every muscle is engaged. Plank is a staple, but it’s one that is easy to cheat. So my emphasis for the day was on alignment – wrists under shoulders, shoulders pulled back, core tight, hips lifted, body in one straight, strong line. We often flow through Plank as a transition, in between various poses, so I wanted to take a day to focus just on that pose. It’s a great one for building strength and measuring progress. There are at least a dozen variations on plank, so I chose to highlight a few beginner’s versions along with some more intense options.

Day 2 – Chaturanga or Low Pushup
I did this pose wrong for YEARS. When we went through it in class on our way to Up Dog, I lowered down as though it were a normal push up – still challenging, but not quite right. It wasn’t until and instructor broke it down step-by-step that I realized I’d been doing it wrong the whole time. When I started paying attention to my alignment, everything changed and I felt an immediate impact on my practice. I realize now that this pose is the key to so many other poses.
That said, it’s a killer. And like plank, it can be easy to rush through with minimal effort. So again, the key for the day was to tune into alignment and just hang out in the pose for a while. There aren’t as many variations on Chaturanga. For today, if anyone wanted to amp it up, repetition was key.

Day 3 – Boat Pose
After two intense upper body days, I decided to shift the focus to core. The core got warmed up in day 1 and 2, but in day 3 it was the star. I won’t lie. I struggle with Boat. It’s one of those poses that I have to make myself do because I know it’s good for me, but I don’t like a single second of it. That said, forcing it into my routine has had a tremendous impact and I’ve seen a ton of improvement – not only in my core strength, but in my hips, hamstrings, and quads too. For today I gave several leg variations to play around with, as well as the option to rep it out in a series of boat sit ups.

Day 4 – Garland Pose
At last a little relief! Garland is one of those great poses that you get to relax into and let gravity do the work. I never fully appreciated the pose until an instructor had us practice staying in Garland for as long as we comfortably could. It was a totally different experience than squatting down for a few breaths and moving on. The immediate impact blew me away. Ever since then I like to incorporate Garland as often as possible. It’s beginner friendly but is a great pose for people at any stage of their practice. For me – someone with very, very tight hips from running – it’s another pose that has changed everything. And with Crow it’s helped my lower body get a better angle, making it easier to float my feet off the ground.

Day 5 – Lizard Pose.
This is another great one for runners or anyone with tight hips. Lizard is an intense hip stretch, moreso than Garland. It’s not quite as beginner friendly, but there are modifications that still make it accessible. I chose Lizard for this series because, like Plank, it’s a great pose for monitoring your progress. Every time I come into Lizard I find a little more room, a little more steadiness, and a little more strength. And, like Garland, it’s a great one for getting those hips ready to fly on into Crow.

Day 6 – Crow Pose.
The day we’ve been working towards! I was so excited for this one that I admittedly went a little overboard. It’s such a fun pose I couldn’t resist. Along with tips and tricks for beginners, there were Side Crows, Fallen Angels, Crow to Chaturanga jump backs, and so many amazing things from the people participating with us.

It was so fun and so inspiring to go through the posts each day to see how people put their spin on the daily pose. There was everything from people working up towards their first plank to those who were capable of some crazy superhuman moves, and every single one brought a smile to my face. I was thrilled to co-host this challenge and have met a ton of wonderful people through it. The best part is, after my part I got to see how my amazing co-hosts built up to their own challenge poses.

Cat is yoga loving digital librarian living in Milwaukee. For more find her on tumblr at yogarian.tumblr.com.

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