Crow or crane pose, which is called Bakasana in Sanskrit, is often the first arm balance learned by yoga students. It is the foundational pose for most arm balances in yoga, so it’s a good idea to understand the basics of Crow Pose first. Though it looks like it’s all about arm strength, the keys are actually learning where your center of gravity is and how to distribute your weight so that you can balance.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is usually a reluctance to move enough of your weight forward into your hands. When you find that sweet spot, the feet just pop off the floor almost on their own. Getting crow opens the door to lots more arm balance fun.
This pose requires a good deal of strength, so it is often performed closer to the beginning of a yoga class. Be sure to warm up thoroughly with several Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara) and Garland Pose (Malasana) before attempting Crow.
Benefits of Crow Pose
Crow Pose strengthens the upper arms, forearms, core and wrists. Additionally, Bakasana tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles and the organs of the torso while stretching the upper back and groins. This pose also improves balance and full-body coordination.
More significantly, Crow Pose builds confidence and healthy self-awareness. Getting over your fear of possibly falling on your face requires moving slowly with a calm mind. This focused mindset will help you reduce everyday stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling calm and self-assured.
Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic wrist or shoulder injury, or if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Women who are pregnant should also avoid this pose. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How to Do Crow Pose (Bakasana)
- Bend your knees slightly so that you can bring your palms flat on the floor about shoulder’s distance apart.
- Plant your palms firmly on the mat about a foot in front of your feet. Spread your fingers wide and press into the top joint of each finger.
- Bend your elbows straight back. Don’t bend them into full chaturanga arms, but head in that direction.
- Come up on to the balls of your feet and open your knees so that they line up with your upper arms.
- Place your knees on the backs of your upper arms.
- Begin to bring your weight forward into your hands, lifting your head as you go.
- Come up onto your tiptoes, then lift one foot and then the other off the floor.
- Hug your knees toward the midline.
- Hug your feet toward your butt.
- Remain in the pose for 10 seconds to 1 minutes.
- To come out, transfer your weight back until your feet come back to the floor and find a Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana).
Be sure to bring your gaze just between the hands to maintain balance.
Crow Pose for Beginners
The first time getting into Crow Pose (aka Crane) is special for a lot of people. The simple act of trying and kind of getting gave you the confidence to keep at it. Confidence is often half the battle in yoga and exactly what we need to work past a lot of our roadblocks. Try these modifications to cultivate a can-do attitude, instill hope, and motivate yourself to keep practicing.
- Some people like to start out with a block under their feet. You can try this and see how is feels.
- Lift one foot at a time if you can’t quite get both feet up yet. This helps you build strength and get a feel for the technique.
- Do not let look down and let your head drop. This will cause you to tip forward and lose balance. Keep your gaze lifted to the horizon.
- Put a blanket in front of you so you won’t be afraid of hitting your head if you fall. Chances are you will tip forward at least once while learning this pose.
- The trickiest part of the pose is figuring out how to transfer enough weight into your hands so that your feet come up but you don’t pitch forward. Practice regularly at home!
Crow Pose for Advanced
Bakasana can be slightly tricky to learn, but with regular practice you can master crow pose and then tackle more difficult variations of this asana, or position.
- Once you come up into the pose, do not let your elbows splay out to either side. Keep them in line with your shoulders and wrists.
- Work on straightening your arms.
- Try jumping back to chaturanga.
- If you’ve mastered that, try jumping from Downward Facing Dog directly into crow.
- You can also try moving from crow to Tripod Headstand and back.
Find Your Wings
If you’re new to Crow Pose, it might seem like flight is an impossible dream. With practice, patience, and consistency, you will gain the physical and mental strength necessary to lift your body off the ground. Even the most experienced yogis fell when learning this pose. Continue practicing and try not to let yourself get frustrated. Crow Pose might be difficult at first, but with dedication, your confidence will grow and you’ll fly!