The Crane and Crow poses are often the first arm balances yoga practitioners attempt (and succeed). Although technically two different poses, they are typically considered modifications of the same pose. And that’s not surprising – there’s only a slight difference in the two poses.
The Crow pose is done with arms bent and knees resting on the upper arms, and the Crane is an advanced version of the pose, with arms straight and knees tucked in the underarms.
The pose requires some level of flexibility, although it mainly relies on your arm and abdominal strength. Like all arm-balances, this pose is only possible if you have the courage to try it and the confidence to attempt it many times, even after you fail.
“The story of Bakasana goes all the way back to the story in Mahabharata. It describes two brothers who died after drinking water a crane forbade them to touch – as they felt the creature challenges their strength, courage, and rights. The third brother was wiser, and seeing the crane’s true nature and purpose, he discovered the seeming enemy is actually a friend in disguise.”, says Yoga Answered contributor, Sara Popovic, “That story celebrates the virtues of wisdom, calmness, and focus, and those are exactly the things the Crane pose teaches us as well. We might fall when we’re not concentrated or have a bad day, but the challenge of the pose constantly makes us come back to it. Once we’re able to enter and hold the crane pose, it gives a sense of strength, confidence, and stability.“
Crane (Crow) Pose Quick Look
Sanskrit Name: Bakasana, Kakasana
Pose Type: Arm Balance Yoga Poses, Core Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Arms, Shoulders, Core
Benefits: The Crow and Crane poses help to strengthen your core, arms, wrists, and shoulders. It’s an excellent pose to practice activating the abdominal muscles. It also stretches the upper back and the glutes. As an arm balance, it helps to build confidence, focus, and courage and can teach you how to combat fear.
Preparatory Poses: Chaturanga pose, Downward-Facing Dog pose, Plank pose, Hero pose, Garland pose
How to Do Crane (Crow) Pose Step-By-Step
- Start in Malasana, or the “yogi squat”. Your knees should be wide apart, wider than the hips.
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder-distance apart, and bend the elbows. Spread the fingers wide.
- Bend your torso forward, come on the balls of your feet and place your knees on your upper arms.
- Engage your core, firmly press your knees to your upper arms. Then try balancing one knee on the triceps and lifting the foot up. Place the foot back down and try doing the same with the other leg. Then try lifting both legs up.
- Once you’re able to balance both feet in the air, you can start progressing to the full version of the Crane pose. To do so, tuck your knees closer to the armpits while slowly straightening your arms.
- For the entire time, you should try to reach your chest forward to shift your center of gravity. Your eyes should be looking towards the floor.
- Once you’re ready to release the pose, return to Malasana, and stretch your wrists to release any tension.
Fear is the biggest obstacle for beginners when they first attempt this pose. You can place a cushion or a blanket under your head, as it will make you feel safer when attempting the pose. It’s crucial to warm up before the pose. Go through at least a couple of Sun Salutations before you attempt it, and warm up your wrists.