How to Do Crow Pose (Bakasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

How to Do Crow Pose
Crow Pose - Bakasana. DC Photo/Photodisc/Getty Images

Also Known As: Crane Pose, Frog Stand

Targets: Abdominals, arms, wrist, upper back

Level: Intermediate

Crow Pose is often the first arm balance that yoga students tackle. Though it looks like it's all about arm strength, the keys are actually learning where your center of gravity is and how to distribute your weight so that you can balance. The biggest hurdle to overcome is usually a reluctance to move enough of your weight forward into your hands. When you find that sweet spot, the feet just pop off the floor almost on their own.

Benefits 

Crow Pose strengthens the wrist, forearms, and abdomen while stretching your upper back. It improves balance and core strength. Mastering Crow builds your confidence and opens the door to lots more arm balance fun. You will improve your awareness of where your body is in space and enhance your body control.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your arms at your sides. Breathe steadily throughout this pose.

  1. Bend your knees slightly so that you can bring your palms flat on the floor about shoulder's distance apart.
  2. Plant your palms firmly on the mat about a foot in front of your feet. Spread your fingers wide and press into the top joint of each finger.
  3. Bend your elbows straight back. Don't bend them into full Chaturanga arms, but head in that direction.
  4. Come up onto the balls of your feet and open your knees so that they line up with your upper arms.
  5. Place your knees on the backs of your upper arms.
  6. Begin to bring your weight forward into your hands, lifting your head as you go.
  7. Come up onto your tiptoes, then lift one foot and then the other off the floor.
  8. Hug your knees toward the midline.
  9. Hug your feet toward your butt.
  10. To come out, exhale and transfer your weight back until your feet come back to the floor.

Common Mistakes

Once you come up into the pose, do not let your elbows splay out to either side. Keep them in line with your shoulders and wrists. Otherwise, you will be placing too much weight on the outside of the wrists, which can lead to injury. You can help prevent this by really gripping your fingertips into the ground and making sure your elbows are over your wrists.

Your knees should be as high up into your arms as you can get them, not allowing your legs to rest on your arms. Be sure you are using your core muscles to hold the legs up and not just relying on your hips.

Keep your gaze lifted to the horizon. Do not look down and let your head drop. This will cause you to tip forward and lose balance.

The trickiest part of the pose is figuring out how to transfer enough weight onto your hands so that your feet come up but you don't pitch forward. Practice regularly at home so you find the right technique.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

  • Some people like to start out with a block under their feet. You can try this and see how it feels.
  • Lift one foot at a time if you can't quite get both feet up yet. This helps you build strength and get a feel for the technique. 

Up for a Challenge?

  • Work on straightening your arms, which then is properly called the Crane Pose.
  • Try jumping back to Chaturanga. 
  • If you've mastered that, try jumping from a Downward Facing Dog directly into a Crow.
  • You can also try moving from Crow to Tripod Headstand and back.

Safety and Precautions

This is a pose to avoid if you have any wrist or shoulder injury or condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It is not recommended if you are pregnant. Traditionally, it said this pose should not be done if you have insomnia.

Put a blanket in front of you so you won't be afraid of hitting your head if you fall. Chances are you will tip forward at least once while learning this pose. You want that to be as soft of a landing as possible.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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