Crow Pose

Crow Pose: A Guide to This Challenging Yoga Posture

Crow Pose

“Discover the benefits and techniques of the Crow Pose, a powerful yoga asana that enhances balance and strength. Learn step-by-step instructions, variations, and FAQs about the Crow Pose in this comprehensive guide.


Crow pose, also known as Bakasana, is an arm balance pose in yoga that builds strength, balance, and focus. This posture resembles a crow, which is where it gets its name from. Mastering crow requires dedication and practice, but the benefits are immense. Read on to learn all about crow pose, from its origins and purpose to tips, variations, and sequences.

What is Crow Pose?

Crow pose is an inverted asana in hatha yoga. To come into the posture, you begin in a squatted position with knees wide and weight in the balls of the feet. Place your palms flat on the mat in front of you, shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Spread your fingers and root down firmly through all four corners of your hands. Lean forward and shift your weight onto your arms, lifting your hips up and back as you straighten your legs.

Once you find your balance, press your shoulders away from your ears and draw your tailbone up toward the sky. The gaze can be forward or down at your hands. Work on stacking your shoulders directly over your wrists and hugging your elbows in close to your rib cage. Keep drawing your low belly in and up to support your lower back. Hold for 5-10 breaths before releasing back down to squatting and repeating the posture again.

The signature shape of crow pose resembles a crow or raven with wings spread wide, hence the name. When performed properly, your body creates an inverted “V” shape with your core strong and legs fully extended behind you. It is an intermediate arm balancing posture that requires strength, flexibility, focus, and courage.




The Purpose and Benefits of Crow Pose

What are the main benefits of practicing crow pose? Here are some of the top reasons to include this asana in your yoga routine:

  • Builds arm and core strength – Crow pose requires immense upper body strength. Your arms bear your full body weight. It strengthens your wrists, arms, shoulders, and abdomen.
  • Improves balance – Finding your balance point over your hands and stacking your joints improves overall balance, concentration, and body awareness.
  • Increases focus – As an arm balance, crow pose requires intense focus and concentration. It sharpens your mind-body connection.
  • Boosts confidence – Mastering crow can build self-confidence. It requires courage and conquering any fears around inverting your body.
  • Stretches upper back and shoulders – The shoulder and upper back region gets an intense stretch in this posture.
  • Prepares you for more challenging arm balances – Crow pose builds a strong foundation for progressing to other arm balances like side crow, handstand, and more.
  • Cultivates mindfulness – The intense focus required brings mindfulness and a meditative quality to your practice.
  • Releases stress – By requiring full focus in the present moment, crow helps relieve anxiety and calm the mind.

As you can see, crow pose offers an array of benefits beyond just building physical strength and balance. Regular practice can transform your mind, breath, focus, and self-confidence.

The Origins and History of Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Crow pose has its origins in ancient hatha yoga traditions. Hatha yoga utilizes physical postures and breathwork techniques to balance the mind, body, and spirit. Some hatha yoga texts date back to the 11th century CE.

The Sanskrit name for the pose offers insight into its meaning. Bakasana comes from the words baka meaning “crow” or “raven” and asana meaning “posture” or “seat.” So, the literal translation is “crow posture.”

While hatha yoga has ancient roots, crow pose as we practice it today became popular in the 20th century as yoga was brought to the Western world. Some credit B.K.S. Iyengar for popularizing it through his unique style of Iyengar yoga. He incorporated standing asanas, inversions, arm balances, and backbends.

Historically, crow pose was seen as a difficult posture only attempted by advanced yoga practitioners. But thanks to its numerous benefits, it has become more common to include crow pose in vinyasa, power yoga, and other contemporary classes. Modifications and prep poses now make it accessible to more students.

The graceful bird-like shape of crow pose represents a fusion of balance, strength, focus, and surrender – all key elements of a hatha yoga practice. Work on cultivating these qualities whenever you take flight in your crow pose.

How to Come Into Crow Pose Step-By-Step

Ready to take flight into your first crow? Follow these step-by-step instructions to properly come into the posture:

  1. Start in a squatted position with your feet mat-width apart or wider. Set your gaze forward and keep your spine long.
  2. Spread your knees and press your weight into your feet, especially at the balls of your feet and base of your big toe.
  3. Place your palms shoulder-width apart on the mat in front of you. Spread your fingers wide.
  4. Shift your weight forward and start to lean your torso toward your hands, hinging at the hips.
  5. Walk your hands forward a few inches at a time if needed to bring your shoulders vertically over your wrists.
  6. Transfer your body weight onto your arms and hands. Continue shifting forward until your hips lift up and your legs straighten.
  7. Find your balance point by micro-bending your elbows and evenly distributing your weight between your hands and fingers. Engage your core.
  8. Once balanced, press your shoulders down and draw your tailbone up toward the sky to lengthen your lower back. Avoid arching or sagging.
  9. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Gaze forward or down at your fingertips. Focus on your breath.
  10. To come out of the pose, slowly shift your weight back and return your feet to the squatted position. Repeat 2-3 times.

Move slowly with control as you come into the posture. Avoid collapsing into your shoulders or letting your hips sag too low. Find your sweet spot between ease and effort.

Tips for Mastering Crow Pose

Having trouble lifting up into your crow? These tips will help you find more stability, balance, and ease:

  • Engage your core – Draw your low belly in and up to support your spine.
  • ** distribute your weight evenly between your hands and fingers**. Don’t overload your wrists.
  • Squeeze your elbows in toward your ribcage to stack your joints.
  • Gaze forward to help open your chest. Looking down restricts your upper back.
  • Focus on the smoothness of your breath. Long exhales can help tap into balance.
  • Align your knees directly over your elbow creases. This creates a straight line of energy.
  • Press firmly through your finger pads and knuckles. Spread your fingers wide.
  • Keep your hips lifted to lengthen your low back. Don’t sag into your shoulders.
  • Use a wall for support as you learn proper alignment.
  • Engage your leg muscles to keep your legs activated and strong behind you.
  • Go for quality over quantity. Shorter holds with good form are better than forcing it.

Practice patience with yourself as you build the strength and stability for crow. Let gravity help draw you into the right positioning.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Crow Pose

Crow pose reveals weaknesses and misalignments in your body. Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:

  • Collapsing into your shoulders and hunching your upper back.
  • Allowing your hips to sag too low behind you.
  • Gripping with your hands vs. spreading through your whole fingers.
  • Lifting your heels and coming onto your toes.
  • Forcing your alignment and overarching your back.
  • Flaring your elbows out wide instead of hugging them in.
  • Placing your hands too narrow or wide, causing uneven weight distribution.
  • Tightening your neck and facial muscles.
  • Holding your breath instead of breathing smoothly.
  • Losing focus and wobbling side to side to maintain balance.

Go slowly and use a wall for support if needed. Proper alignment will come with practice. Be patient with yourself.

Prep Poses and Warm Ups for Crow

Are you new to arm balances like crow? Build your strength and stability with these prep poses first:


  • Works: legs, core, upper back
  • Benefits: Warms up your legs and builds lower body strength needed for lifting into crow. Do regular squats and wide-legged squats.

Forward Fold

  • Works: hamstrings, calves, lower back
  • Benefits: Stretches your hamstrings, calves and lower back to help open your hips for crow.


  • Works: core, shoulders, arms
  • Benefits: Strengthens your shoulders, arms, and abdominals to prepare for bearing weight in your upper body.


  • Works: chest, shoulders, arms, core
  • Benefits: The low push-up position mimics the shoulder and arm position of crow pose. Builds essential strength.

Garland Pose (Malasana)

  • Works: ankles, thighs, hips
  • Benefits: Loosens your ankle and hip joints and grounds through your feet, helping your foundation for crow.

Dolphin Pose

  • Works: shoulders, core, upper back
  • Benefits: Places weight onto your arms and upper body. Helps open your chest and build arm and core strength.

Move through a warm-up flow with these poses before attempting your crow each practice.

Yoga Sequences to Practice with Crow Pose

Not sure where to fit crow pose into your sequences? Here are some effective sequences to build your strength and stamina:

Crow Warm-Up Flow

  1. Child’s Pose (30 seconds)
  2. Tabletop Wrist Stretch (5-10 times each wrist)
  3. Downward Facing Dog (30 seconds)
  4. Forward Fold (30 seconds)
  5. Halfway Lift to Stand (5-10 times)
  6. Squat (30 seconds)
  7. Garland Pose (Malasana) (30 seconds)
  8. Crow Pose (5-10 breaths)

Core and Arm Balance Sequence

  1. Child’s Pose (30 seconds)
  2. Plank (30 seconds)
  3. Chaturanga (5-10 times)
  4. Upward Facing Dog (30 seconds)
  5. Downward Facing Dog (1 minute)
  6. Standing Forward Fold (30 seconds)
  7. Halfway Lift to Stand (5-10 times)
  8. Garland Pose (Malasana) (30 seconds)
  9. Crow Pose (5-10 breaths)
  10. Child’s Pose (1 minute)

Crow Pose Flow

  1. Tabletop
  2. Cat-Cow Flow (5 rounds)
  3. Downward Facing Dog (1 minute)
  4. Plank (30 seconds)
  5. Chaturanga (5 times)
  6. Upward Facing Dog (30 seconds)
  7. Child’s Pose (30 seconds)
  8. Garland Pose (Malasana) (30 seconds)
  9. Crow Pose (5-10 breaths)
  10. Child’s Pose (1 minute)

Play with different sequences to find what prep poses help you build your strength and stability for crow each practice.

Crow Pose

Modifications to Make Crow Pose More Accessible

If you are new to arm balances, crow pose can feel daunting. Use these modifications to make it more accessible:

  • Use a wall or block – Place your hands on a block or stand near a wall for stability as you kick up. This supports your weight as you find the pose.
  • Bend knees – Keep knees bent instead of straightening legs. This removes weight and makes balancing easier.
  • Practice crane pose – Bend elbows and keep them in at hip level rather than straightening arms overhead.
  • One leg up crow – Lift dominant leg up while keeping other toes down for support. Switch legs.
  • Bind at the knees – Wrap a strap above your knees and hold it in place while lifting up into your one leg crow.
  • Chair, crow, chair – Place a chair in front of you. Come into crow pose, return feet to the chair seat, stand up to reset.
  • Use two blocks or books – Stack blocks/books under your hands to elevate your hand position.

Listen to your body and use props or modifications to find success. You can also build more slowly with prep poses.

Advanced Variations to Progress Your Practice

Once you’ve mastered crow, try these more challenging variations:

One Leg Crow

  • Benefits: Builds balance, mobility, focus and leg strength
  • How to: Lift one leg up to the sky as you come into your crow pose. Keep hips even and core engaged. Switch legs.

Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)

  • Benefits: Strengthens your obliques, abs, and inner thighs
  • How to: Shift weight over one hand and stack one foot over the same shoulder. Find your balance. Switch sides.

Twisted Side Crow

  • Benefits: Deeply engages your obliques and inner thighs
  • How to: From side crow, reach your top arm behind your back and bind your bottom hand. Stack your feet and find balance.

Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

  • Benefits: Opens shoulders and strengthens back, arms, core, and legs
  • How to: From crow, plant hands behind you shoulder-width apart and arch back to lift chest and hips up high. Strong arm and back muscles required.

Flying Crow

  • Benefits: Tests your arm and core strength to new heights
  • How to: From crow, see if you can slowly lift one hand off the floor while maintaining your balance. Repeat with the other hand to “fly.”

Headstand Prep

  • Benefits: Develops arm and shoulder strength and stability needed for headstand
  • How to: From crow, slowly shift forward bringing your head toward the floor between your hands without losing balance. Build time here.

Crow Pose Contraindications & Cautions

While crow pose offers many benefits, it’s not advisable for everyone. Here are some contraindications to be aware of:

  • High blood pressure – The inversion can increase blood pressure.
  • Headache or migraine – Inversions may exacerbate these conditions.
  • Pregnancy – Most inversions are not recommended during pregnancy. Consult your doctor.
  • Wrist, elbow, or shoulder injuries – Crow pose places intense pressure on these sensitive joints.
  • Heart conditions – Inverted postures can put strain on the heart for some people.
  • Menstruation – Some avoid inversions during the first days of their cycle.

Proceed gently if you have any concerns about attempting crow pose. Always listen to your body and don’t force yourself into any posture. Build up slowly with prep poses and props if needed. And when in doubt, consult with your healthcare provider.

Common Questions About Crow Pose

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about mastering your crow pose:

How long should I hold crow pose?

Aim for 5-10 breaths when first starting out. Build your endurance gradually, holding for longer as your strength increases. Quality matters more than quantity.

What muscles does crow pose work?

Crow works your core, arms, shoulders, wrists, forearms, and legs. Your abdominal muscles support your spine while your upper body bears your weight.

Where should I look during crow pose?

Gaze forward or slightly down toward your fingertips to keep your neck aligned. Avoid dropping your chin or straining your neck by looking straight down.

How often should I practice crow pose to improve?

Aim to practice crow 2-3 times per week minimum. Daily practice will help you build strength quickly. Just listen to your body and don’t overdo it.

Why is my back arched in crow pose? How can I fix it?

If your hips sag and back arches, your core strength needs work. Engage your low abs more and keep lifting your hips up high. Strengthen your core with regular plank and boat pose.


From ancient hatha yoga to modern vinyasa classes, crow pose remains a popular and rewarding posture. Though challenging at first, with consistent practice and patience almost anyone can master crow pose. Along the way you will build incredible strength, stamina, focus, confidence and more.

Approach crow pose step-by-step, using prep poses and props as training wheels when needed. Pay close attention to alignment and learn from your mistakes. Stay focused and breathe smoothly even if balance takes time to find. Setting small achievable goals keeps you motivated.

The feeling when your body first lifts up and your crow wings spread is pure joy. This posture represents the beautiful dance between strength and surrender. Keep showing up for your practice and enjoy the journey! Your inner crow awaits.

5 Unique FAQs

What type of yoga flow is crow pose typically practiced in?

Crow pose is most common in vigorous vinyasa and power yoga sequences, but it also appears in hatha yoga flows. The repetitive flowing between postures in vinyasa builds strength and stamina for arm balances like crow.

How much flexibility do I need for crow pose?

You need moderate hip and shoulder flexibility for crow pose. Tight shoulders and hips will make it harder to balance and find proper alignment. Stretch your hips, hamstrings, and shoulders regularly with poses like pigeon, forward folds, and thread the needle. Over time your flexibility will improve.

What is a good arm balance progression after mastering crow pose?

After gaining confidence in your crow, work toward more challenging arm balances like side crow, handstand hops, and forearm stand. Continue honing crow but also train the shoulder and arm strength needed for inversions like headstand and forearm balance.

Can I practice crow pose every day?

It’s generally not recommended to do crow pose daily, especially when you’re still building the required strength. Take rest days in between crow days to allow your muscles time to recover and repair. You can do prep poses like planks daily but give your wrists a break from the intense wrist flexion of crow itself.

How long does it take to master crow pose?

It’s different for every student based on your baseline strength and flexibility. Give yourself at least 1-2 months of consistent practice 2-3x per week before expecting to find balance and hold crow pose for longer durations. Building strength takes time. Stick with it!

Take a look at this video to help you master the Crow Pose!

Learning more yoga poses is essential to being a successful yogi. Go to our page Essential Yoga Poses: Achieving Balance and Well-being to find more yoga poses!




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