The eagle crunch combines the wrapped arm and leg positioning from yoga's eagle pose with a standard crunch. "When done properly, it allows you to target the core muscles of the body—namely, the rectus abdominis—while incorporating yogic breathing," says Lauren Musselman, a PURE Yoga Instructor on Equinox+. "By wrapping the arms and legs, you're able to get very specific about the frontal region while using less momentum and more isolation." And when you squeeze your legs together, your inner thighs will get a nice dose of work.
Aside from building muscle, the move also offers benefits for your mobility. "Strengthening your front body will, in turn, assist in spinal flexion," says Musselman. "Additionally, when engaged correctly, the scapular and hip flexor muscles will get a good stretch and these movements may assist in loosening the psoas."
So how do you do the move properly? Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, then move into your eagle wrap. "Be sure to make connection with the ground or workout mat with your entire back body," says Musselman. Then, wrap your right leg over your left thigh, and squeeze. For an extra challenge (and if you're able), continue the wrap until your right shin passes your left calf and try to tuck your right ankle behind your left. Wrap your arms the same way, with your right arm under your left, and either place the backs of your hands together or press your palms to touch. "Remember the same arm and leg are always closest to one another; in this case right leg on top means right arm on bottom," says Musselman.
Next, it's time to add the crunch. As you inhale, move your arms and legs away from each other. "If possible, try to touch your toes to the ground below you and your fingers to the ground above your head," says Musselman. "Notice if your ribs have flared up and if you’re arching your back, and try to bring your ribs in and your back down." Then, as you exhale, curl your body up to center and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and tailbone off the floor and try to touch your elbows to your knees.
"If the knee and elbow touch does not happen right away, don’t get discouraged, just keep practicing," says Musselman. It’s always a good idea to pace the movement with a slow breath and take the whole breath to unravel your crunch–remember inhale is your extension and exhale is your flexion." Start with eight crunches (you can build up to more reps as your practice improves). Then, unwind and switch sides.
And with that, hitting those hard-to-target muscles just got a whole lot easier.
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