Tutorial: Side Crow Variant

I've really grown to like and appreciate Instagram. To me, it is more than pretty pictures and selfies. It is my virtual yoga teacher.  

Now I'd like to share the teachings of my teacher. This pose is from a yoga challenge that was hosted by The Lab Chicago (@cyogalab) and that challenge was called A Minute A Day (#AMinuteADay).

For the challenge, the yogis were to stay in the pose of the day, for up to one minute. By staying in the pose for a minute, the yogi could build endurance, strength, and deepen the discipline needed to approaching the poses.  

Let's start with this Side Crow variation, which is called Dwi Pada Koundinyasana in Sanskrit. Here's what makes this pose interesting:  

  1. Both legs are extended, which can challenge your core strength if you are used to bent legs. Feel (yes, feel!) how the pose affects your abdominals, hips, and back when you bend and straighten the legs.
  2. Fingertips! The free hand uses fingertips while the other that supports the legs, places the palm flat on the floor/mat. Fingertips recruits a different level of strength of the wrist. 
  3. Usually the arms are shoulder width distance apart. This variation calls for the arms to be wider than shoulder-width distance. Specifically, the arm on fingertips is extended to the side, away from the ribs. Feel the difference in your shoulders.

Step 1

Begin in a squat position. Twist to the right and place both palms on the floor or mat. Stay here for several breaths, feeling your body adapt and open up to this twist. Please try to not rush this part. You'll know when it is time to proceed.  

Step 2

Lift your heels (if they are not already away from the floor) and begin leaning on your left arm. Make sure your knees are together and spread your fingers wide in order to give yourself enough support. Feel how leaning on the arm deepens the twist and increases the stretch.  

Step 3

With your knees together, lift the top foot (left) toward the ceiling or sky followed by the bottom (right).  Think about lengthening the chest forward while your body continues to settle into the twist.

Visually (as in if I was to look at you) lengthening the chest is not a big move.  It is slight, however you will feel the lightness it brings to the arm balance. 

Begin to straighten the legs. If straight legs is a little more than your body can presently handle, feel free to keep both legs bent. Straight legs is not a requirement!

Now let's address your right hand. Begin to tent the hand in order to come onto your fingertips. Start crawling or creeping the fingertips to the right, until your arm is nearly extended with a slight bend to it. Take your time with this.

Don't be afraid to come out of the pose, take a break, and then return!

Step 4

Continue straightening the legs, if you are going for the straight leg option.  Point and flex the feet, acknowledging what you feel as you further adapt to the balance.  

Also continue to lengthen the chest and the crown of the head forward.  If you collapse the chest, the balance becomes very heavy or you'll fall out of it.  

Step 5

Smile! You just did a variation of Side Crow!

Hang out for up to one minute.

Be sure to check out your other side and have fun!