Today’s Yoga Ended in… Murder!

I remember running down a wooded trail with a friend discussing a murder. I’m sure the passing couple were a bit taken aback by the nonchalant discussion of murder, but that’s just what a few crows are called.

So, armed with a couple students, we dug into crow pose – kakasana – creating our own “murder” of yogis this morning.

As we discuss crow, we find a strong emphasis on the strength required for the post. And yes, crow does require a bit of arm strength, a good core engagement, and a bit of balance?

I tend to teach Crow focussing more on your mental and energetic space, then on your arm strength. Crow requires clarity/focus, a stable foundation, and a bit of trust as the body lifts up and over.

The Subtle Crow:

Mental Space: Crow is just not a pose that tends to be mindlessly moved through. An agitated mind doesn’t make for a good crow. Clearing the mind and focusing on crow as a task to practice towards helps alleviate the pass/fail mentality of “doing” a pose and helps create the clarity/ focus required for moving into your Crow.

Energetic Space: True Yoga has nothing to do with capturing cool looking postures. How often do you see simple Lotus, or Seated Twist, or Forward Fold on magazine covers and Instabook photos? But, they’re in near every class. These seated postures emphasize stability and foundation. In yoga, we can emphasize energetic space with the movement of prana. Crow needs a strong Apana (downward) and a confident Udhana (Inward + Upward) movement of your energy. Combining grounding postures and moving energy will give way to the “foundation” of “movement” into Crow.

The Practice for Crow

Consider the four pieces we’ve talked about:

  1. Foundation: Start your practice with a few grounding postures. Seated poses like discussed above, Child’s pose, and Cat/Cow. Continue focusing on the feet as you continue to move through your practice.
  2. Energy Movement: Continue into moving sequences that emphasize up and down movements. Sun salutations are a great up/down movements.  

From mountain:

  • inhale up to tall mountain (Udhana)
  • exhale down to forward fold (Apana)
  • inhale up to flat-back / money (Udhana)
  • exhale down to forward fold (Apana)
  • Inhale up to chair pose (Udhana)
  • Exhale down to plank (Apana)
  • Exhale controlled down to low-plank (Apana)
  • Inhale up to up-dog (Udhana)
  • Exhale to down-dog and reverse
  1. Clarity/Focus: Pause throughout your practice and visualize yourself in Crow pose. Pause again and visualize yourself moving into Crow from squat pose (or plank).
  2. Strength:  Since you’re already doing Sun Salutation, really control the plank to low-plank transitions. Use Warrior series and Triangle to keep a strong practice.

Move into Crow.

From Squat:

  • Bring the gaze as far forward as you can
  • With the wrists directly under the shoulders, bend into the elbows
  • As the body moves forward, rest the inside of the knee against the outside of the tricep
  • Lift the right toes off the matt
  • Lift the left toes off the matt
  • Repeat until you find a place to hold for five breaths

Repeat until you find a place to hold for five breaths

Sit back into Child’s pose

Move toward Mountain pose and a heart opener

OM here if chanting is in your practice

Visualize yourself in Crow

Move into Crow a second time.

Note: If you tend towards tight hips, practice a couple extra Warrior II’s and consider Cobbler’s Pose as a seated pose at the beginning of practice.

Crow Svadhyaya

How far does your practice ask you to take crow today? You will never find enlightenment in any posture. What you will find is the basis for growth, not in the posture, but working toward the posture, working within the posture, and accepting where you are now with the posture.

Just before coming to final rest, consider whether you honored your practice working with Crow today. Did you push yourself to “nail” the pose? Did you let fear prevent you from lifting into your capabilities? Did you go where your body felt “right” going?

Do what feels right for your practice after reflection.

Find resting pose.

More about Stu...

PS – It was Ernie, in the Studio, with the Strap…

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