Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm Balance Pose (Crane Pose)

Learn how to do a 'Crane Pose' (Photo credits: Glenn Gebhardt)

So far in our Jock Yoga tutorials we’ve taken you through yoga flows, have described some passive and active stretching techniques, and given you some yoga-for-strength tips. This week we are going to shake things up a little and breakdown the steps of a basic arm-balance. 

Most people know the following arm balance as ‘Crow Pose’. In reality, the translation from the original Sanskrit to English is ‘Crane Pose’. The reason for explaining this is that, ultimately, the pose is practiced with straight arms, which resembles the shape of a crane—long legs with the body resting on top. We are going to break down the balance, beginning with bent elbows, and as you advance and want to play around with your balance, you may want to try straightening the arms a little. Keep in mind that arm-balancing is not arm-strengthening, and therefore relies on focus and balance rather than on upper body strength.

Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm-Balancing

Step 1: Come to a squat, resting on the balls of your feet (hip width) with your heels lifted off the mat. Arms are extended in front of you shoulder-width.

Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm-Balancing

Step 2: Keeping the arms shoulder-width, bend the elbows to 90 degrees. The muscles of the arms should be rigid with an isometric flex to create stability for the balance—almost like when you’re angry and your muscles tense up!

Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm-Balancing

Step 3: Keeping your knees bent and your heels lifted, lift your bum a little higher and begin to tuck the knees toward the armpits—shelving the back of the upper-arms against the fronts of the shins.

Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm-Balancing

Step 4: Maintaining the shelf of the upper-arms against the shins (and your arm muscles still flexed), place your hands on the mat in front of you shoulder-width, with your fingers spread.

Jock Yoga Tutorial: Arm-Balancing

Step 5: With your hands on the mat, move your body slightly forward and bring your weight into your hands. Keep the elbows stacked above the wrist–never beyond the wrist or you’ll fall forward! Reach your chest forward and look forward—this lengthens the upper body, allowing you to balance like a teeter-totter above the fulcrum (which is your elbows stacked above your wrists). Keeping the elbows above the wrists, and the chest reaching forward, you can play around with lifting one or both feet up toward your bum. Once you’ve mastered lifting both feet off the mat, you can try straightening the arms more to come into the full expression of the pose.

Stay here as long as you’d like, keeping your focus on one spot for balance, and don’t hold your breath. To come out of the pose, just tilt back in space a little and lower the feet down.

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Check back every other week for a new tutorial by fitness expert Michael DeCorte.

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