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I used to spend a lot of time in yoga classes falling on my face. As a former competitive athlete, it’s been a long process for me not to think of yoga class as another thing to win—especially when it comes to challenging poses. When I was in college, I tried to launch myself into complicated arm balances and inversions at every opportunity. Yes, I was that yoga student.
I eventually scaled back my attempts, instead focusing on building up to one particular pose in my practice. Last year, it was finally nailing Crow Pose. And this year, I decided on Side Crow—which I finally got into for the first time ever last week, thanks to the cueing of one of my favorite teachers, Chris Stanley. When I finally lifted off, I was shocked. (Jack Workman’s hilarious Instagram Reel on the subject immediately resonated as I glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed my accomplishment.) I was…doing it.
For me, everything changed when I focused on lifting my hips—and twisting—versus concentrating on the forward motion. It’s something that Yoga Journal’s Senior Editor Renee Schettler reminded me of as well. “Sometimes what’s holding us back has nothing to do with the arm balance,” she told me. “Instead, it’s being able to come into the intense twist. Before you can position your body to use your elbows as a support, you need to be able to rotate your upper body to an extent that allows you to find the basic shape of Side Crow.”
Completely. As I continue to work on my Side Crow (it’s far from perfect at the moment, and I’m perfectly okay with that), I’ve been looking at our content that revolves around twists and the arm strength needed to maintain those “Chaturanga arms.”
I should confess: I’ve also set my sights on Baby Crow.
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