Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Crow Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


This compact arm balance known as Bakasana, or Crow Pose, both tones and strengthens your abdominal muscles and arms.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Bakasana

(Pronounced as "bahk-AHS-anna")

The Sanskrit word baka means "crane," and you lift your body up to balance the same way that a crane holds its body up out of the water while wading. Some people also refer to this posture as the Crow Pose.

How to do Crow Pose

Step One

Stand with both feet flat on the floor and squat down so that your buttocks almost rests on your heels. If you cannot keep the entire soles and heels of your feet in contact with the mat, then place a folded yoga blanket underneath your heels.

Next, keep your feet in place as you widen your knees far apart so that you can lean forward, bringing your torso in between your legs. Press your palms into the yoga mat with spread fingers. Your hands should be right below your shoulders. Bend your elbows as you lean a bit more forward.

Step Two

Raise your heels up to rest your weight on the balls of your feet and your hands. Adjust your knees so that the very tops of your shins just below your knees press slightly into the backs of your shoulders, near the tops of your triceps. Take two deep breaths.

Step Three

As you exhale, tighten your arms and squeeze your knees into your shoulders as you lean forward enough to lift your feet up off of the floor. Here your head will be at about the same height as your ankles behind you. Keep your arms slightly bent and lift up your lower back a little to help you balance in the air.

Step Four

Only if you are comfortable in this position and wish to go further, then you can squeeze your legs harder into the crooks of your arms, press your hands strongly into the floor and breathe in as you straighten your arms. This movement will lift you up even higher.

You should not try to keep your arms perpendicular to the floor. Instead, you shift your weight forward on your straightened arms only until the point where you feel you have balanced your weight. Keep your knees up against your armpits so tight that they cannot slide down. In the beginning, look at the floor right in front of you while you balance. Later you can try lifting your head just a little to gaze straight ahead of you in this posture.

Step Five

Hold Crane Pose for at least 20 seconds. Gradually increase your holding time up to one minute in future practice sessions. Never hold your breath in this pose.

When you are ready to come out, breathe out and lower your feet back down onto the floor in your original squatting posture.

Beginner's Tip:

While the lift of the back is important, you still need to keep your heels and buttocks close together. Focus on this positioning as you practice near a wall to get more balance. You should be just far enough from the wall that when you lift up on your arms, the top of your head can come forward and press slightly into the wall to help you gain more stability.

Crow Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Bakasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

Only practice this posture under the supervision of an experienced teacher if you are recovering from shoulder injuries, wrist problems or carpal tunnel syndrome, and especially if you are pregnant.

Modifications and Props:

In order to get the proper feeling in your muscles of how to lift your feet off the ground, you can prepare yourself by squatting on a yoga block that elevates the balls of your feet several inches above the floor. However, you still need to keep your hands on the floor without any support below them.

Deepen the Pose:

To get the knees into an even more secure placement with straightened arms, start out in Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Lock your arms straight in place, keep your back extended up and long. Then you should rise up on your toes and slowly walk your feet in. Bend your knees down only enough to tuck right into the outside backs of your armpits, lowering your head as far down to the floor as you can. Once your knees are secure, then you can lift your toes up easily and lift your head back up a bit to make your head more level with your feet again.

Benefits:

  • Increases strength in your arms and wrists
  • Exercises your abdominal muscles and organs
  • Improves poise and confidence

Crow Pose Variations

Next, you can try the twisting version of Bakasana. The name of this variation is Parsva Bakasana (pronounced "PARSH-vah") which means the side or flank of a twisting crane.

Come into this pose in almost the same way except that this time, hold your knees pressed tightly together. After you put your palms down and breathe out, turn your torso to your right side. Lean forward enough to keep your head down as you lift your feet up, placing the outside of your left thigh on the back of your upper right arm. Your knees should stay together and as close to your armpit as possible. Then keep breathing as you tighten your stomach muscles to steady your balance and straighten your arms.

Try to hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Exhale to come back into a squat. Then repeat the same pose while twisting to the other side. Hold both sides for equal amounts of time.

Partnering:

For many people, it is difficult to overcome the fear of lifting your feet up off the floor to balance. Ask a partner to help prevent you from falling. Your partner should sit on the floor in front of you while you come into Crane Pose. Before you try to lift your feet, have them place their hands against both of the tops of your shoulders to stabilize you. Now lean forward, pressing your shoulders against their hands as you try to raise your toes off the floor. Lean your shoulders into their hands more and more. They can gradually move their hands away from you so that you ever so slowly learn how to lean forward enough to get the balance you need to lift your toes up.

Next Pose:

Dolphin Plank Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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