Kakasana and Bakasana

June 22, 2022

Last Updated on: November 16, 2022

Arm balance poses like Crow Pose and Crane Pose look impressive, but more importantly, they offer physical and mental benefits to yoga practitioners. Learning to hold an arm balance pose can be difficult, yet it's the challenges you face on the yoga mat that prepare you for the tougher struggles in life. You can take the patience and focus you learn while practicing Crow and Crane Pose, and apply it to any problem cropping up in your life.

Beginning and Progressing

Begin by reading through the steps and visualizing your body moving into the pose. Visualization is used by professional athletes to maximize their training, so you can use it to “train” for an asana.

The next step toward successful arm balances is to warm up your body by practicing Sun Salutations. This wakes up your body, activating your muscles and balance reflexes. (For more detail, read Why You Should Never Skip Sun Salutations

Pranayama (breathing exercises) might also be useful to foster mental calm and focus.

Once warmed up, follow the step-by-step guide below for Easy Crow Pose, and practice until you feel comfortable and calm while holding the pose. Then you are ready to move on and follow the steps for Crow (Kakasana) and then Crane (Bakasana).

Many factors affect how long it might take to become comfortable in Crow Pose and Crane Pose — anatomy, strength, balance and coordination, previous experience, state of mind and more. There’s no perfect number of times to practice, and no quota of days, weeks or years your practice should take. The only rule is that regular practice will do far more good than occasional practice.

What is Crow Pose and Crane Pose?

Crow Pose in Sanskrit is Kakasana; Kaka translating to ‘crow’ and asana meaning ‘pose’. Crow Pose is an arm-balancing yoga pose practiced in Hatha Yoga and other active yoga practices to strengthen the arms and core while increasing focus.

Easy Crow Pose is a beginner-friendly variation of Crow Pose that does not require the same level of strength and balance.

Crane Pose, or Bakasana, is an advanced balancing pose which shares a similar stance to Crow Pose as well as key benefits. Although these poses might look alike on the mat and even stimulate the same muscles, they are not entirely the same. 

What is the Difference Between Easy Crow, Crow and Crane Pose?

Both Crow Pose and Crane Pose take on a similar shape on the mat: arms are planted on the mat balancing the upper body atop, while the knees tuck inwards and feet flex upward. Bearing a striking resemblance to perching birds, these poses are often confused and used interchangeably by practitioners, but if you break down each of these poses, you’ll find that they are in fact different. 

  1. In Easy Crow Pose your knees are further apart and your torso is closer to the ground. This wider base of support and lower center of gravity makes it easier to balance.
  2. Crow Pose, with a narrower stance and slightly higher body position, requires more core control and balance.
  3. In comparison to Easy Crow and Crow Pose, Crane Pose has the highest body position and is therefore the most demanding of strength and balance.

The Benefits of Crow Pose and Crane Pose in Yoga

Crow and Crane Pose, as well as their variations, offer a myriad of benefits if practiced regularly and correctly. Both activate and strengthen key muscle groups such as the core (trunk) muscles, arms and shoulders, while improving overall body strength, coordination and balance in yoga. Incorporating Bakasana and Kakasana into your regular practice will also help to improve circulation, lung capacity, and core control and concentration. 

Crow and Crane Pose also stimulate the Sacral Chakra (Svadhishthana Chakra) and therefore help balance the functions of your urinary tract, kidneys, and gonads.

Step-by-Step Guide to Practicing Easy Crow, Crow and Crane Pose

How to do Easy Crow Pose (Sukha Kakasana) 

Easy Crow Pose
  1. Sit on your toes, with heels almost together and knees apart.
  2. Place your bent elbows in the crease of the inner side your knees. Your back should be slightly rounded.
  3. Keep your hands slightly higher than your knees, fingers spread apart and fingertips pointed slightly inwards.
  4. Maintain this alignment as you shift your weight forward, placing your palms on the floor roughly shoulder-width apart.
  5. Focus your gaze on a point half a meter (two feet) in front of your fingertips on the floor.
  6. Slowly lift your feet off the floor, one foot at a time.
  7. Pull both heels toward your hips, while looking at a point on the floor approximately 30cm (one foot) in front of your fingertips. Keeping these leg muscles engaged while holding the poses keeps your core active.
  8. Hold the pose briefly, then come out of it by shifting your weight backward with control, placing your feet on the floor and releasing your hands. (A beginner might work towards a ten second pose duration. With continued practice, a minute may become possible.) 
Hands-on Adjustments and Assists Training

Experience authentic Hatha Yoga

Get free access to exclusive guided lessons with master teacher Kalyani Hauswirth-Jain

Easy Crow Pose Practice Tips:

  • The angle at your wrist should be 90 degrees. You can adjust this angle by placing a folded blanket under the heel of your palm. This sets the palm on an angle, taking some pressure off the wrist. (See How to Prevent Yoga Wrist Pain for more wrist tips.) 

  • If you’re struggling to ‘take off’, try pressing your forehead against a cushion on the floor to practice the weight shift.

Easy Crow Pose Cautions:

  • This pose is challenging for the wrists, shoulders, knees, groin and hamstrings so please take into account any injuries or issues your body is dealing with. Cardiovascular issues or unmanaged hypertension might mean the pose is unsuitable for you.

How to do Crow Pose (Kakasana)

Classical Crow Pose
  1. Stand on your mat, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend forward, allowing your knees to bend and placing them against the back of your upper arms, just above your elbows.
  3. Maintaining the connection between your arms and knees, place your hands on the floor. Hands should be parallel, with fingers spread apart. Your back should be rounded, with the tailbone tucked in.
  4. Look forward toward the floor in front of you and shift your weight onto your hands. Actively push down through the heels of your palms, and your knuckles and fingertips.
  5. Lift your feet off the floor, one by one, and pull them up toward your hips. Keep your heels tucked towards your buttocks. Your big toes will be pointing slightly towards each other.
  6. If you are stable, press through your hands to straighten your arms as far as possible.
  7. Hold the pose steadily as long as comfortable and breathe evenly

Crow Pose Practice Tips:

  • When practicing Crow Pose in yoga, keep your head in a neutral position, looking at the floor in front of you. You can also lift your head a little to look slightly forwards - do this by lifting from the chest to avoid tilting the head too much and compressing the back of the neck.

  • Wrist and balance tips as above: you can use a folded blanket under the heel of the palm to reduce wrist strain, and learn to balance the pose by practicing the weight shift with your forehead pressed onto a cushion on the floor. 

Crow Pose Cautions:

  • As for Easy Crow Pose (above)

How to do Crane Pose (Bakasana) 

Crane Pose
  1. Stand on your mat, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat halfway down, allowing your knees to open shoulder-width apart and focus on keeping your lifted heels toward each other. If balancing on lifted heels is difficult, start with a rolled blanket or block under your heels.
  3. Bend forward and place your knees as high up against your upper arms as comfortable, or in your armpits if possible. Your back will be rounded, your tailbone tucked in.
  4. Keep the connection between your arms and knees, and then place your hands on the floor. As in Crow Pose, hands are parallel and fingers are spread.
  5. Look forward to the floor in front of you and shift your weight to your hands. Again, push actively into the floor with your fingertips, knuckles and the heels of the palms.
  6. Lift your feet off the floor one by one, and pull them up toward your hips. Keep the heels tucked in toward your buttocks, and your big toes angled toward each other.
  7. Once you have control in the position, press through your hands to straighten your arms as far as possible.
  8. Hold the pose steadily as long as is comfortable. Breathe evenly. 

Crane Pose Practice Tips:

  • Keep your knees glued high on your upper arms. Your arms should angle slightly forwards, so from a side view your shoulders are in front of your wrists. 

  • Neck and wrists tips: see tips in Crow Pose (above). 

Crane Pose Cautions:

  • As for Easy Crow Pose (above).

Conclusion

To practice a strong and balanced Crow and Crane Pose, you will need to develop physical strength, coordination and mental focus. This takes time. Start where you are, do what you can, and most importantly, be consistent. Once you have mastered these balancing poses, you can move on to more advanced variations like Side Crow Pose and Flying Crow Pose. By pushing your limits on the mat, you’ll not only progress in your practice but in your personal life as well. Discover what you can achieve with a consistent commitment to yoga. 

Hands-on Adjustments and Assists Training

Experience authentic Hatha Yoga

Get free access to exclusive guided lessons with master teacher Kalyani Hauswirth-Jain

About the author

Kalyani Hauswirth Jain

Kalyani Hauswirth-Jain is the Creative Director and a senior teacher at the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. Prior to joining Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in 2011, Kalyani studied Modern Dance in the Netherlands where she discovered her passion for the body-mind connection and personal leadership. In 2007, Kalyani began teaching yoga professionally, and four years later, she was training yoga teachers at our ashrams.

Now with over 11000 hours of teaching experience, Kalyani is a lead teacher for the 200- and 300-hour Yoga Teacher Trainings, as well as a number of 50-hour courses at the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. When she’s not adjusting postures in class, Kalyani is writing informative blogs and guides for fellow yogis, and co-authored the critically acclaimed book, 'Hatha Yoga for Teachers & Practitioners.'

Related Posts