Expert advice on how to do one leg side crow
Have you ever wanted to try one leg side crow pose but don’t know where to start? Well Yogaru is here with her top tips on how to do one leg side crow
The benefits of a home practice
There is nothing better than starting the day with a home practice that is exactly what you need for that particular day. Home practice gives you the opportunity to go deep into your own practice and explore what poses you love to practice and what poses challenge you. Arm balances are quite an advanced family of poses that challenge us to come to our mat with patience and an open mind.
They also build focus, stamina, heat and strength in the shoulders, arms and core. They are great for building self confidence when you manage to lift those toes for the first time. And humility when you’re having a day and your feet just won’t budge off the ground!
If you are an arm balancing fan and you find they are not often practiced in studio classes this is the sequence for you. Incorporating them into your home practice is the perfect way to play around with them and spend a bit more time on your alignment and finding your balance. Arm balances can be very picturesque but remember your practice is not about the exterior and ticking off poses as you ‘master’ them, it’s about practicing poses that nurture you physically and emotionally in order to tackle life off the mat too.
One leg side crow, or Eka Pada Koundinyasana, is a strong and energising arm balance. It is also a twist pose which aids healthy digestion, detoxification and optimal elimination. It also eases stress, tension and anxiety. The compression massages the organs, and on releasing the twist you feel a loosening of the physical and emotional tension as the fresh oxygenated blood flows back into all the organs and triggers the rest restore and digest parasympathetic nervous system.
Prepping for one leg side crow
As you flow through your practice pay particular attention to your twists. Feel into the muscles that work to twist the body as they strengthen and stretch. The arm balances start with tripod headstand, if it is not part of your practice, skip it and go straight to side crow. If you’re finding it hard to lift up try placing your right hip on your right elbow, and your right knee on your left elbow – so that the body weight is being distributed on both elbows rather than just on your left elbow. Unlike our feet, the wrists were not made to carry full body weight, so be kind to them. Rest in child’s pose between side crow and one leged side crow if your wrists need a break.
How to do one leg side crow
The sequence is designed to warm up the core, strengthen the shoulders and wake up the hip flexors. Move slowly through the sequence and let the body warm up and be ready to play with your peak poses.
Print out the below tips, along with the sequence, and give arm balances a go with fresh eyes:
- From malasana, with feet together, twist to your right, place your hands on the ground to the right of your feet a little wider than shoulder width, fingers facing away from the legs.
- Bend your elbows and place your left elbow above your right knee.
- Strongly draw your navel towards your spine, round your upper back. Lean to your right side, shift your weight into your hands.
- Exhale, lift your feet stretch your right leg out to your left parallel to the ground, reach your left leg out behind you and press out through balls of both feet, gaze slightly forward.
Top tips for side crow
- Keep your shoulders in line with your hands to protect the shoulders from bunching and pinching the muscles at the back of your neck.
- Avoid letting your shoulders collapse lower than your elbows. This can put too much pressure on your shoulder joint and cause injuries.
- Placement of the arm before you lift is important to the stability of the pose. Take a bit of time to find a position that can comfortably take the weight when you start to lean forward. If it is too intense, try use a folded t-shirt to pad your upper thigh.
- If your hamstrings are tight keep a slight bend in your knees and continue to press through the balls of the feet or stay with side crow with the knees stacked.
- Use your head as a counter weight to your hips. Lift the head up and down slightly as you try to catch your balance.
Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie.