Check out this fun little video that I put together awhile ago showing a posture progression that prepares for Eka Pada Galavasana, Flying Crow. I’ve included some bullet points after the video indicating which muscles need to be stretched, and which postures you can stretch them in.
If you enjoy, please share and leave comments or questions!
MUSCLES THAT NEED TO BE STRETCHED
The main muscles that need to be stretched before moving into this posture include:
Hip Extensors (Front Hip)
- Gluteus Maximus
- Gluteus Medius (posterior fibers)
- Adductor Magnus
The front thigh is deeply flexed in Eka Pada Galavasana, so spending some time stretching the hip extensors first can help you get into it more easily. A great stretch for all of the above muscles is Lizard pose (shown in the video), but these muscles can also be stretched in Balasana (Child’s pose), Malasana (Garland pose) and supine Happy Baby pose.
Medial Rotators (Front Hip)
The front thigh needs to be able to laterally rotate quite a bit in order to get into Eka Pada Galavasana, and the piriformis is pretty much the only muscle in your way. Remember that the piriformis becomes a medial rotator when the thigh is flexed more than 60° (see our piriformis post for more info on that), so if it’s tight it will limit lateral rotation and pretty much make Flying Crow an impossible endeavor. I didn’t list the TFL, medial hamstrings or adductors (all of which can medially rotate the thigh) because they are all on the slack due to the fact that the hip is so deeply flexed.
To stretch the piriformis, you could practice Pigeon pose, Pigeon variations, Ankle-to-Knee and standing Ankle-to-Knee (all shown in the video). Other ways to stretch the piriformis include Supine Ankle-to-Knee (which you’re probably familiar with, and the Z-Sit (see image, right). I’m a big fan of the Z-Sit as it provides a safe, effective way to stretch the piriformis and is a great alternative for those who have knee pain in Pigeon. Be sure to check out our comprehensive post on the piriformis, where there are several illustrations of postures that can stretch it.
Hip Flexors (Back Hip)
- Rectus Femoris
While the hip flexors of the back hip aren’t really stretching in Eka Pada Galavasana, if you spend some time stretching them before going into the posture it may make it easier to extend the back hip when the time comes. Postures that stretch the hip flexors include Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1), High Lunge, Lunge, Low Lunge, Lizard and Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (Single Leg King Pigeon). The last two are shown in the video.
If you practice the sequence let me know how it goes, and feel free to leave any questions or comments below