Crow Pose, also sometimes called "Crane Pose," is usually the first arm balance that yoga students learn. 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 may seem tricky, Crow can be a fun pose when you get the hang of it.
The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Bakasana" (bah-KAHS-uh-nuh), comes from the word "baka." Although it is usually referred to as "crow," it is more accurately translated as "crane." However, both "Crane Pose" and "Crow Pose" refer to the posture described below.
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
Bakasana strengthens the upper arms, forearms, and wrists. Additionally, it 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.
Yoga expands beyond the yoga mat — it begins to seep into your lifestyle, transforming you one pose at a time.
Hip Tranquil Chick
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.
Newer students might feel more comfortable doing the pose with a pile of blankets or a pillow in front of them in case they fall forward. Be sure to set up your "falling spot" before you come into the pose!
- Begin by standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your arms at your sides. Step your feet about as wide as your mat.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips, coming into a squat. Separate your thighs so they are slightly wider than your torso, but keep your feet as close together as possible. If your heels lift, support them with a folded mat or blanket.
- Drop your torso slightly forward and bring your upper arms to the inside of your knees. Press your elbows along the inside of your knees and bring your palms together in prayer position. This is Garland Pose (Malasana).
- Bring your palms to the mat, keeping them about shoulder-distance apart. Spread your fingers and press evenly across both palms and through your knuckles.
- Press your shins against the back of your upper arms. Draw your knees in as close to your underarms as possible.
- Lift onto the balls of your feet as you lean forward. Round your back and draw your abdominal muscles in firmly. Keep your tailbone tucked in toward your heels.
- Look at the floor between your hands or at a point even more forward, if possible.
- As you continue to lean forward, lift your feet off the floor and draw your heels toward your buttocks. If it's difficult to lift both feet at the same time, try lifting one foot and then the other. Balance your torso and legs on the back of your upper arms.
- Keep pressing evenly across your palms and fingers, then begin to straighten your elbows. Keep your knees and shins hugging in tightly toward your armpits. Keep your forearms drawn firmly toward the midline of your body.
- Touch your big toes together. Draw your belly in. Breathe steadily.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, exhale as you slowly lower your feet to the floor, coming back into Garland Pose.
Modifications & Variations
Crow Pose can be fun and uplifting, but it's important not to let yourself get frustrated if you fall out of it. If you'd like to deepen or lighten the pose, try these simple changes to find a variation that works best for you:
- If it's difficult to lift your feet from the floor, try using a block. Come into Garland Pose on a yoga block or other firm object. This sets your feet a few inches off the floor, making it slightly easier to attempt the pose.
- For a greater challenge, more experienced students can jump back from Crow Pose directly into Chaturanga, and then continue to flow through a vinyasa.
- For another challenge, more experienced students can move directly from Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana) into Crow Pose, and then move from Crow back into Headstand.
Practicing Crow Pose can be a great way to challenge your mind! It requires less physical strength than you might imagine. The real challenge is in your mindset. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Set a pile of blankets or a pillow in front of you. If you topple forward, you will land on something soft.
- Lift one leg at a time until you have built up strength and confidence to lift both feet together.
- Spread your fingers wide and distribute your weight evenly across both palms and all fingers.
- If your wrists hurt, shift more weight into your fingers. Curl your fingertips slightly and dig into the mat.
- Tuck in tightly! Keep your heels and buttocks drawn close together.
- Keep your spine rounded.
- Look forward as much as you can without compressing your neck. Looking back toward your heels will cause you to topple over.
- Keep your abdominal muscles drawing in and up.
- Keep your elbows tucked in toward your body — do not let them splay open to the sides.
- Straighten your arms as much as you can.
- Keep in mind that everyone falls when learning this pose!
Find Your Wings
If you're new to Crow Pose, it might seem like flight is an impossible dream. That's what everybody said about the Wright Brothers, too! 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!