Watching a seasoned yogi take flight into bakasana—crow pose—is a beautiful thing. It looks so simple, so effortless. And while this arm balance may look tricky, even scary, it’s entirely attainable for all levels.

All you need to get off your feet and onto your hands is a little confidence and this five-step guide from Lyons Den instructor Sara Packard. Read on, and get ready for takeoff.

1.    Be confident. When you go into any new experience with confidence, it makes for a stronger start. Even if you’re not confident you’ll “master” the pose, have confidence that you’ll learn something new about yourself.

2.    Start on a block. Any master of anything knows nothing is ever achieved without a little help. A great—and readily available—tool is your yoga block. Place the block on your mat and bring your feet on top of it. This will offer your body a bit more room to get your legs and hips up where they need to be. Even for someone who has already mastered crow, getting back on the block can be a great reminder, and can help take your pose to new heights—literally.

3.    Feel your hands. In crow pose, our foundation is our hands. Give yourself the strongest foundation possible. Spread your fingers wide and really root down through the triads of the hands (the space between the forefinger and thumb). Really feel the support of the floor underneath them and use it. When we begin to work into any arm balance or inversion, we start to notice a direct relationship between our hands and our core; when we plug into one, we instinctually plug into the other.

4.    Hug in. From the pit of the belly to the legs and feet, squeeze in toward your midline. Often we look at crow pose as coming from arm strength, but really it’s more about finding balance by being strong, and letting go at the same time. The strength of this pose comes by pulling up and in at the center of your body, so that the weight distribution is forward and up. Speaking of forward…

5.    Look—and think—forward. This is the scary part for most of us, but the idea is that we go where we see ourselves, literally. By taking the eyes to a point in front of you, the body tends to follow. And where the eyes go, the heart goes. Since we are always working toward finding an open heart, this is important.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fall. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back from trying anything new. While it’s perfectly OK to be afraid to try, that doesn’t mean it should stop you. Whenever I teach any arm balance or inversion and the student falls, I see it as such a positive thing! Once you fall out of something, it gives you the freedom to see that not only are you OK, but you can get back up and try again. Chances are, it was never as scary in reality as what you created in your mind. Remember: No crow learned how to fly without falling, and no yogi has either!

By Ali F

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lyonsden November 6, 2014

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