I bet most of you tried Bakasana during your yoga classes.  One of the first among arm balance practices, most yoga teachers refer to Bakasana as the Crow Pose.  So here is the reality – Bakasana is the Crane Pose, and the Crow Pose is Kakasana. While both yield similar benefits and look quite the same, the latter is more comfortable to practice and master.

Let us take a walk down the Crane Pose and Crow Pose and master them!

Crane Pose vs Cow Pose
Crane Pose vs Cow Pose

Crane Pose in Sanskrit

Kaka is the Sanskrit word that means crow. The final posture resembles this bird.  Kakasana is an intermediate level arm balance practice, which could be easier than it looks. A store core, arms, shoulder, and wrists with unbiased focus and concentration is essential to master this Asana. Just like the crow, you align your body against the biceps and try to fly. Your arms become the crow’s legs while the palms emote its feet. The thighs and legs are engaged to resemble a crow’s body. The arms remain bent here.

Let us now talk about Bakasana, the Crane.  While it is quite similar to Kakasana, the significant difference lies in the arms. You keep them straight instead of pushing your elbows away from your body, just as you do in Chaturanga Dandasana. Strong core muscles arms and wrists are vital to balance in this posture.

How to Do the Crane Pose?

It is an intermediate yoga pose that we can master with regular practice.  The key is to work on strengthening our core muscles and hands before lifting the hips and legs away from the floor, allowing the hands to bear the weight of the entire body.

Here is how we can practice Bakasana.

  • Start in Tadasana. Separate the feet slightly wider than the hips. Roll the shoulders back and away from the ears. Inhale and lengthen the spine through the crown of the head. Let the palms rest on either side of the waist, thumbs resting on the back and pointing down.
  • Inhale and while breathing out, squat completely to come into Malasana.
  • Rest the palms firmly in the front slightly away from the feet. Spread the fingers. Engage the bicep muscles to keep the hands straight. Gently lean forward and rest the knees on the forceps. In other words, tuck the knees and wedge them against the triceps.
  • Take a full breath here. Engaging the entire muscles of the core, gaze forward, and lift the hips and legs as high as possible. Bring your feet as close as possible.
  • When you reach equilibrium, look ahead and maintain your posture between 10 and 30 seconds.
  • Practice holding the Pose for a count of five to ten initially. Release the feet and repeat the practice.

To release the pose, empty the lungs completely, and gently lower the feet to the floor, one at a time. Come back into Malasana. Pressing the palms into the floor, breathe in and come into Tadasana. Shake out the legs.

Bakasana Step by Step

How to do Kakasana?

As I mentioned earlier,  getting into the Crow Pose is pretty similar to Bakasana. Let’s see what you need to do to learn this pose.

  • Start in Tadasana, spreading your feet wider than your hips. Roll your shoulders back and away from the ears. Inhale and lengthen the spine through the crown.
  • Exhaling, squat and get into Malasana. Plant your palms firmly in front of you in such a way that you can bend them and bind your knees around them. Spread the fingers wide.
  • Inhale, engage the core muscles, especially the ones in your lower abdominal region.
  • Exhale, bend your elbows back and away from the body. Leaning forward, bracing yourself knees on triceps, elbows or outside triceps. Take a couple of breaths here.
  • On the next inhale, press the palms into the floor and lift onto your toes. Gaze forward. Lift one foot at a time or if you have a strong core, life both feet. Exhale and bring the legs closer. Keep your hips low and parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping the core engaged, hold for ten to thirty seconds.
  • Practice holding the Pose for a count of five to ten initially. Release the feet and repeat the practice.

To release the pose, empty the lungs completely, and gently lower the feet to the floor, one at a time. Come back into Malasana. Pressing the palms into the floor, breathe in and come into Tadasana. Shake out the legs.

Tips for the Beginners

You are bound to feel shaky and even scared if you are a newbie to yoga or just the Crane/Crow Pose. Do not attempt the complete posture the very first time itself. Just play around a little bit. Do a partial one by just lifting one leg off the floor. Feel free to use cushions, blocks, or bolsters to support your practice.

However, there are some basic yoga poses that you must master before you try arm balances. And, Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the best poses that strengthen your arms, wrists, and upper body alike.

More Tips to Master Crane/Crow Pose

  • Plant your palms firmly on the mat as that will determine your stability in the posture. Separate the fingers and slightly turn your palm inwards. Adjust the hand position so that the elbows point sideways, and not backward, when you bend them.
  • Keep your head erect and fix your gaze at a point on the floor in front of you.
  • Practice, practice, and practice – that is the sole way to master this pose. Start by holding the Asana for a couple of breaths. Increase the time slowly.
  • If you are not able to place the palms firmly on the mat/ground, use blocks. A stable base is essential to make use of the power in the arms when you lift your torso and legs away from the floor. This will also enable you to stay balanced while holding the posture longer.
  • Fixed gaze will allow complete focus, thus enabling better balance.
  • Let us not forget the strength of the core muscles here. If your core is weak, lifting yourself could be challenging. Work on strengthening your core with Chaturanga, Planks, Dolphins, and even the standing balancing poses.
  • When lifting the legs, bring the big toes as close as possible. Activate the muscles of your calves and squeeze the buttocks making a contraction with the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Try to maintain these positions a little more each time, without effort, just finding the point of balance.
  • Always roll your shoulders back and away from the ears to ensure the expansion of the thoracic and rib cage regions as this will allow you to breathe.

Precautions and Contraindications

Ensure that you are completely aligned before you lift yourself.

Listen to your body. Release and come out at the very first instance of pain. A slight discomfort is natural, but anything that makes you tired or a sharp prick, please exit the posture. Pain is a sign that you are wrong.

Avoid the postures if you have

  • Knee injuries
  • Wrist issues
  • Ankle injury
  • Shoulder woes

This posture, as well as all arm balances, are not advisable if you have Diastasis Rectos or split Rectus Abdominis muscles as your core will be weak.

Avoid the posture during menstruation and pregnancy.

This posture is contradicted for those who have hypertension, hypotension, and migraine.

Benefits of the Crane Pose

  • Increase strength in arms, wrists, and shoulders
  • Reinforce inner thighs, abdominals, and sacrum
  • Stretches the upper back
  • Open the groin
  • Improves the lung capacity.
  • Improves concentration and balance.
  • It brings calm and mental clarity.

With time and when you can perform this asana in a complete and sustained, you will see how it is one of the positions that help you feel stronger and gain safety in the use of arms for any other yoga posture.

Physical Benefits of the Crane Pose

  • Strengthens arms, wrists, and shoulders
  • Tones and strengthens inner thighs, abdominals, and sacrum
  • Stretches and opens upper back and ribcage
  • Opens the groin
  • Improves the lung capacity
  • Improves concentration and balance
  • It brings calm and mental clarity

Physical Benefits of Crow Pose

  • Strengthens and tones abdominal muscles, legs, thighs, and calves
  • Opens and tones hips and groins
  • Could be beneficial to ease menstrual woes
  • Helps decrease heartburn and acidity
  • Could be therapeutic for constipation
  • Could promote detoxification
  • Makes the spine flexible and supple

Mental Benefits of Crow and Crane poses

Both the poses, being similar, helps in improving the focus and concentration. It could help in alleviating the fear of falling down you might be experiencing.

The Asanas accentuate the body consciousness and sharpen the mind-body connection while flying in the air.

These poses encourage you to stay in a place of perfect balance to maintain while letting go of beliefs that do not serve you, invite and accept your fears and embrace the courage to fly.

Spiritual Benefits Offered by Bakasana and Kakasana

Both the postures work on eliminating the blocks from the Sacral Chakra, the Svadhisthana and the Solar Plexus, the Manipura.

An opening Sacral Chakra allows you to flow with the flow of life. It allows you to feel your emotions, and then let go of them. An open Svadhisthana is also essential to enjoying the pleasures this life offers you.

On the other hand, an open Solar Plexus helps you take charge of your life. You are able to balance everything with ease and peace. You will be able to enjoy each and every moment of life as you will be responsible for all your life.

Crane Pose Variations

Ardha Bakasana – The Half Crane Pose

In the Half Crane Pose, the forearms rest flat on the floor. This could be slightly more challenging if you have knee injuries.

Half Crane Pose
  • Start in Table Top position. Separate the legs slightly wider than the hips. Roll the shoulders back and away from the ears. Inhale and lengthen the spine through the crown of the head. Let the palms rest under the shoulders. Spread the palms wide, pressing the heels of the palm firmly into the floor.
  • Inhale and while breathing out, come on to the tips of your toes. Simultaneously, rest your knees on your triceps.
  • Take a full breath here. Engaging the entire muscles of the core, gaze forward, and lift the hips and legs away from the floor. Bring your feet as close as possible.
  • When you reach equilibrium, look ahead and maintain your posture between 10 and 30 seconds.
  • Practice holding the Pose for a count of five to ten initially. Release the feet and repeat the practice. 

To release the pose, empty the lungs completely, and gently lower the feet to the floor, one at a time. Come back into Malasana. Pressing the palms into the floor, breathe in and come into Tadasana. Shake out the legs.

Parsva Bakasana

The position of the Crane on its side requires a lot of strength in the wrists, arms and abdominal muscles. The key to mastering this pose is to twist your torso enough so that you can rest the outer edge of the upper arm the outside the opposite thigh.

It is slightly different from the classic Crane as you stretch your legs sideways by resting the knees on only one the elbows.

Parsva Bakasana
  • Start in Tadasana. Separate the feet slightly wider than the hips. Roll the shoulders back and away from the ears. Inhale and lengthen the spine through the crown of the head. Let the palms rest on either side of the waist, thumbs resting on the back and pointing down. 
  • Inhale and while breathing out, squat completely to come into Malasana.
  • Rest the palms firmly in the front slightly away from the feet. Spread the fingers. 
  • Bring your right elbow outside your left thigh as you soften your abdomen.
  • Exhale and twist your torso to the left and bring your right lower ribs across towards your left thigh.
  • Slide the back of your right arm down the back of your left thigh to rest the armpit close to the thigh.
  • Now take a gentle backbend and draw the left shoulder backward to deepen the twist in your torso.
  • Inhale and as you exhale, deepen your backbend and twist until you reach the maximum rotation.
  • Gently bend your elbows backward, allowing upper arms to come parallel to the floor.
  • Stack your left thigh on the right upper arm in such a way that your right thigh is stacked above your left thigh as you lift your feet off the floor.
  • Hold the posture for five to seven breaths.
  • To release the pose, empty the lungs completely, and gently release the twist after lowering your feet to the floor, one at a time. Come back into Malasana. Pressing the palms into the floor, breathe in and come into Tadasana. Shake out the legs.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Standing Crane Pose

In Sanskrit, it is called Nidra Kokkusanam.

Standing Crane Pose

Kakasana

The Yoga Posture that is most related to the Crane Posture is the Kakasana. They are very similar and, in fact, sometimes they are confused or spoken of as if they were the same.

The difference between Kakasana and Bakasana is that in the first the arms are bent at right angles, but not supported by the mat as in the Ardha Bakasana variant, but the forearms are vertical.

Kakasana – The Crow Pose

The name in English of the Kakasana is Posture of the Crow.

Eka Hasta Bhujasana

The Eka Hasta Bhujasana is a similar posture in the sense that only hands are used as the support, the arms are stretched and one of the legs rests on an arm.

Eka Hasta Bhujasana

One Legged Crane Pose

There are a couple of variations in Eka Pada Bakasana. The one mentioned here is one of the simplest ways.

One Legged Crane Pose
  • Start with Adho Mukha Svanasana. Adjust the alignments to bring the shoulder, elbow, and wrist in one line without locking the elbow. Lengthen through your spine and stretch your calf muscles.
  • Inhale and lift your right leg up in the air without opening the hips. As you breathe out, place it between the palms. Rest the left leg on the floor, tops of the foot flat, toes extending backward.
  • Inhale and place your right hand inside the right leg. Take a breath here.
  • Now slide your right arm outside to the right in such a way that the right knees rest on the right shoulder. Gently lift both palms away from the floor. Simultaneously, bring the left knee closer to the left arm, as if you have just placed the left knee down from a squat.
  • Engaging your core muscles, feel the weight of your body.
  • Place the palms back on the floor and gently stretch the right leg to the front resting the bottom of the knee against the triceps.
  • Stretch the toes and activate the muscles of your right leg. Keep the core engaged. Gaze forward. Hold here for a couple of breaths.
  • If you are comfortable, lift the left knee away from the floor and come into a squat, but with heels lifted away from the floor. Rest the left shin onto the triceps of your left arm.
  • As you exhale, shift forward and lift the left foot off the floor. Squeeze your legs into the arms while opening up the shoulder and chest.
  • Keep your legs, core, and arms active. Breathe, breathe, and breathe as you hold the posture for the next couple of breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, gently release the legs to the floor one at a time. Release the bind by sliding the left arm out to its initial position.
  • Come into all fours and sit down on the floor. Stretch out the legs and shake your arms.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Bakasana Modifications

You can use blocks or a chair to support yourself. You can place the blocks under the heels if you find it challenging to place the palms on the floor without lifting the heels.

You can also include blocks under the palms, but make sure they are not slippery.

You can use the cushion in front of you, in case you fall down.

Bakasana is suitable for yoga with two people too. You can try this pose with your partner. Your partner can help you by standing in front of you. Your partner can act as a support by holding your shoulder so that you can balance.

Crane Pose with Chair

Bakasana is suitable for yoga with two people too. You can try this pose with your partner. Your partner can help you by standing in front of you. Your partner can act as a support by holding your shoulder so that you can balance.

The Crane Pose with Blocks

Preparatory Poses

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Baddha Konasana
  • Balasana
  • Virasana
  • Dolphin Pose
  • Malasana

Follow-up Poses

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Plank Pose
  • Balasana
  • Savasana

What’s the Difference between the Crane Pose and Cow Pose

Crane – Bakasana

  • Arms straight
  • Higher and slender position upwards
  • Back slightly rounded
  • Knees supported as close as possible to the armpits without protruding
  • Feet together

Cow – Kakasana

  • Elbows flexed at an angle of 90 degrees, bent backward
  • Lower and more compact position
  • Straight back
  • Knees resting on the elbows or on the back of the arms and out
  • Toes together as ‘wings’

The choice is yours. No two days are the same. So listen to your body and go with the flow.

What is your favorite pose – Bakasana or Kakasana? Share with us your thoughts.

SHARE
Previous articleHow to Practice Half Moon Pose
Next articleBest Yoga Mat for Carpet
I’ve always been enthusiastic about discovering myself, the life and the people. I realize that I have to live in the present moment in order to do that better. This is the mindfulness. Yoga has become the part of my life for more than 5 years. I also completed my teacher training program (RYT 200, Yoga Alliance) and I wanted to share my experiences with everyone. I believe that the articles on YogaArt.com can help you reach out to the mindful state. Yoga is the Art of Mindfulness. Let's be present together. Namaste!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here