- Sanskrit (Original): Bākāsana
- Etymology: Crow (bāka), pose (āsana)
- Fun Fact about the pose: For many yoga practitioners, Bakasana is the first arm balance they learn – a big milestone on their yoga journey!
- Asana Type: Arm Balance
- Main strength muscle groups: Psoas major, psoas minor, abdominal muscles, pelvic floor; iliacus, hamstrings, pectineus; serratus anterior, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, rotator cuff, deltoids, triceps, pronator quadratus pronator teres; muscles of the wrists and hands; neck muscles
- Vinyasa Breath: Inhale and exhale possible
How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step
- 1 Start in a squatting position (Malasana). Stretch your arms forward and place your palms on the ground.
- 2 Bend your arms as if you were practicing Chaturanga.
- 3 Bring your knees on your outer upper arms and lift up onto your tiptoes.
- 4 Start with your elbows wide so that you can place your knees onto your upper arms.
- 5 Lean towards your fingers and point your toes. Create resistance with your fingertips.
- 6 Hollow the body by pulling the ribs in and rounding the back.
- 7 Squeeze the elbows and the knees in.
- 8 Before you come into the full pose, shift your bodyweight further forward first so that you have to grip the mat even more.
- 9 Instead of dropping the head to look underneath you, lift the head forward just like a turtle that comes out of its shell.
- 10 Keep leaning forward and resisting with your fingers until your feet get light. Start lifting the feet one by one, engaging your toes.
- 11 Suck your belly in and bring your navel to the spine.
- 12 Hug the midline by squeezing your knees against your upper arms. Lift your hips higher.
- 13 Bring your big toes to touch and, eventually, you can straighten your arms for the variation Crane Pose (Kakasana).
Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose
- Bring the forearms vertical: One of the most common issues in arm balances such as Bakasana is the position of the forearms. As long as they are not vertical, you will not be able to get into the pose. This basically means that your arms are in the same position as they would be in Chaturanga, i.e. with the shoulders forward. This is why Chaturanga is often referred to as the ‘Mother of Arm Balances’.
- Resist the temptation to jump: Many practitioners are impatient and want to jump into Crow Pose. This is not only dangerous but also very inefficient. Instead, lean forward with your chest until you don’t have any weight left on your feet. Engaging your feet will then help you to lift up without jumping.
- Centering: As your feet leave the ground, bring your big toes together and, at the same time, hug the elbows into your upper arms. This is called centering. If you now lift your heels toward your buttocks, you will be able to fly.
Adapting The Pose Through Modifications
- Lift your hips a little higher to make it easier to use gravity to move forward into your arms. Place a block or a thick book under your feet before you take off from Malasana to give your body that little extra height.
- If the fear of falling over on your face is your biggest obstacle when it comes to Crow Pose, put a pillow or a blanket in front of you until you have overcome your fear. You will most certainly not need it, but at least it’s there!
- Lifting up both feet in Bakasana is your main issue? In that case, start with raising one foot only at first. But only keep the big toe of your other foot on the floor. This will help you build strength and get an idea of the right technique.
- If you don’t feel ready to come into Crow Pose yet, you can practice the shape of this asana on your back first in Ananda Balasana. This is also a great way to warm up your back and hips and help them release.
- Gradually straighten your arms until your elbows are almost straight. This variation is called Kakasana or Crane Pose. At the same time, you can also work on lifting the heels further up towards your sitting bones in this pose.
- Another fun practice is jumping back into Chaturanga. Once you’ve mastered that, you could even try to jump into Crow Pose from Chaturanga or even Adho Mukha Svanasana (be careful!).
- Transitioning from Bakasana to Tripod Headstand (Salamba Sirasana) and back can also be a fun way to challenge yourself during your yoga practice.
- Crow Pose is the gateway to other arm-balancing asanas such as Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana), Dragonfly (Maksikanagasana), or Firefly (Tittibhasana). So, move on if you feel ready!
Benefits of Bakasana
- Bakasana strengthens the shoulders, the upper arms, the forearms, and the wrists. In addition to that, it also strengthens and tones the core muscles and the abdominal organs.
- It’s also a great yoga pose to mobilize and stretch the upper back and the groins.
- It also increases the flexibility and elasticity of the spine and helps you improve your balance and full-body coordination.
- Crow Pose does not only make you stronger on a physical level, it can also help you increase confidence and self-awareness. This is because getting over the fear of falling forward on your face requires you to move slowly and focus on the present moment. This focus will calm your mind and can help reduce anxiety and everyday stress and may leave you with a feeling of calmness and self-assurance.
- In order to master this arm balance, you will have to create a better mind-body connection and will therefore gain greater body awareness. Thus, this asana provides a perfect balance of accepting your fears and embracing courage.
- Once you’ve accomplished Bakasana, you will feel that it looks scarier than it actually is – leaving you with a real boost to your self-confidence.
Pose VariationsSee all Poses
Pose variations can be anything that makes the original pose easier or more simple but also anything making it more challenging or adding complexity.
Side Crane Pose
Preparatory PoseSee all Poses
Preparatory poses are poses that have a similar shape to the pose you want to prepare for but maybe in a different alignment towards gravity and/or poses that target specific body areas to warm up, stretch or strengthen in order to lead to the final pose. Include preparatory poses when you build yoga sequences.
Happy Baby Pose
Counter PoseSee all Poses
Counter poses serve to balance the body back into neutral after a pose or a set of same poses. E.g. symmetrical poses balancing asymmetrical poses, forward folds or twists balancing backbends, balancing challenging poses with restorative poses. Use counter poses to build sequences that feel amazing – you can use our free Sequence Builder tool to get started.
Happy Baby Pose
Yes, Crow Pose was also my first arm balance and I still remember the invigorating feeling of flying for the first time. It still gives me chills every time I practice this asana!
Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher
FAQ: Common questions about this pose
These two asanas are often used interchangeably or mixed up. You will sometimes find Crow Pose as Bakasana or Kakasana; the same goes for Crane Pose. Don’t let this confuse you: The difference between these two poses is only a minor one: The arms are either straight or bent. In general, it will depend on your body, flexibility, and balance whether you prefer to practice this arm balance with straight or bent arms. To keep it simple, we decided to refer to Bakasana as Crow Pose, with the arms bent, and consider Kakasana its straight-arm variation Crane Pose. But chances are you will find it the other way around in other resources.
No, please don’t! Although it is very tempting, this is only for the very impatient (which is not a very yogic characteristic, is it?). This is not only dangerous, but also very inefficient. The reason for this is that you don’t need momentum to be able to lift your heels and fly. What you actually need is engagement and centering. By engaging your feet and hugging your knees to your upper arms, you will notice that you don’t need momentum to lift your heels.
If crushing your nose on your yoga mat is your main obstacle, place a pillow or blanket in front of you onto your yoga mat. This will give you the feeling of safety that you will land softly if you fall (you won’t fall!). Apart from that, it’s very important to create resistance with your hands by gripping your fingertips into the yoga mat and keeping your hands active (Hasta Bandha). Practice this in Chaturanga before you approach Bakasana.
While I wouldn’t introduce Crow Pose in the first yoga session to absolute yoga newbies, it is definitely one of the arm balances that is easier approachable, even for beginners. Make sure you warm up your wrists and core sufficiently and open your hips in poses like Malasana. With the right technique, Bakasana does actually require neither a lot of strength nor a lot of experience. It takes a lot of courage and trust in your own capabilities, though.