What Is Crow Pose and How To Do It

woman in pink leggings doing a crow pose on a yoga mat

Yoga is often mistaken for being just a stretching exercise routine, but it’s much more. Yoga, a Hindu philosophy, is a set of practices that include asanas (postures), meditation, mantras, breathing exercises (pranayama), and changes in your overall lifestyle. The crow pose is one of the more advanced asanas, called Kakasana, and can be difficult to achieve.

Balance is the main focus of all yoga asanas, but the crow pose requires a solid amount of arm balance, especially in the arms, but also all over the body. You are primarily balancing yourself on your arms. The crow pose is a static yoga posture that targets your upper back, wrists, arms, and abs for core strength.

One of the purposes of the crow pose is to help you become comfortable with being in an upside down position. If you’ve been practicing yoga as a beginner, or you have yet to master this arm-balancing yoga pose, here is how to do it, and some tips on working up to it.

Steps to Performing the Crow Pose

A good starting point is to provide you with the steps for performing the crow pose. After that, we will discuss alternatives that help you get there, the benefits of the crow pose, and other related tips.

Step 1

Start in a squatting position with your palms facing away from you in a diamond shape. You may know the Garland pose, which is a good starting position for the crow pose.

You can put your palms on the floor in front of you. They should be shoulder-distance apart.

Keep your head up, and your knees and elbows against each other. Don’t press your elbows against the thighs because you need to keep your chest open.

Be sure to pull your shoulder blades down to help keep your chest lifted. Avoid collapsing them. Look straight ahead.

woman doing a crow pose on a yoga mat

Step 2

With your palms placed flat on the floor, shoulder-distance or wider apart to help support your weight, spread your fingers apart. Every detail is important when you want to master crow pose.

Spreading your finger wide apart will give you better stability once you get into the crow pose. You may feel more comfortable turning your fingertips a little inward toward each other.

If you need help keeping your arms aligned, you can use a yoga strap. It should be the width of your shoulders.

Step 3

With your hands, palms down, in front of you, shift your body weight forward while pulling up your sit bones (ischial tuberosity).

Making this transition for the crow pose is a bit tricky, but you can do this. In this transition, you will realize why your hands should be flat on the floor, shoulder-width or wider apart for stability and balance.

You will lift your sitting bones upward to the sky into the malasana. Doing this first will help you get into the Kakasana, Crow Pose.

Once you’re in the malasana, bend your elbows while moving your chest forward, also while shifting your weight forward.

Step 4

Put your knees on each respective tricep of your upper arms. Be sure to keep your elbows slightly bent.

Lift up on your toes, positioning your knees on your triceps. Go as high above your elbows as you can. Imagine that you’re trying to put your knees in your armpits.

woman doing a crow pose in a dark room

Step 5

Squeeze the inner thighs against each side of your torso and secure your shins into the upper arms.

Engage your mula bandha (root lock) to contract your ab muscles inwards while keeping your sit bones lifted up to the sky.

If you need to make the transition to the crow pose a bit easier, try standing on a yoga block. You will get extra height to help get your knees into the proper position against each upper arm.

Step 6

Keep your gaze forward. Avoid looking down at your feet or your hands. If you do, you may lose your balance.

Maintain your focus (drishti) in front of your hands. If being afraid of falling is holding you back, use a blanket or pillow on the ground in front of you to lessen the impact of a possible fall.

Step 7

Lift one foot off the ground at a time while shifting your body weight to your hands by further leaning your knees into the triceps while also lifting your feet off the floor.

One should never just hop into crow pose, or any other yoga pose. Be gradual and gentle as you shift your body weight forward until your feet come off the floor.

If you’re anxious or nervous, start by slowly lifting one of your feet off the floor, then replace it as you lift the other foot. Once you master crow pose, you will feel more balanced and strong enough to lift both your feet simultaneously.

Once both of your feet are off the floor, try to touch both big toes together, tucking in your heels as close to your butt as you can.

wide shot of a woman doing a crow pose in a yoga studio

Step 8

Straighten your arms and lift up your sit bones. This is where you hold crow pose for several seconds.

This helps you to master crow pose while cycling through a vinyasa if you want to. After all, it’s not often you will be practicing one single asana at a time in your yoga practice. The asanas fit together perfectly.

Now, straighten your arms as much as you can. Don’t broaden them out to your sides.

Round out your back (spine) as you draw your ab muscles upwards and inwards using mula bandha.

Slowly work towards holding this pose for about one minute. If your wrists start hurting, check to make sure your palms are both flat on the floor.

Step 9

Once you finish the vinyasa or asana, you can lower back down to malasana or cycle through a vinyasa if you’re experienced enough. Only do the asanas you can without losing proper form.

What You Need to Perform Crow Pose

You will need a yoga mat, plenty of open space, a pillow or cushion, a yoga block, and a yoga strap. The pillow and yoga block and strap are optional items.

If you have shoulder or wrist injuries, or issues with carpal tunnel syndrome, crow pose, Kakasana, or crane pose, Bakasana, is not a recommended yoga asana. Also, if you’re pregnant, avoid this pose.

There has been some debate regarding crow pose from different views like from yoga instructors, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists. Some reasons for the debate involve what the crow is good for and the carefulness that should be taken when mastering crow pose.

The Benefits of Crow Pose

Mastering crow comes with several benefits that you should know. You can enhance your yoga practice with advanced asanas like Crow Pose.

Improved core strength

You will be engaging your pelvic floor muscles, the Mula Bandha or root lock when you master Kakasana. This muscle group helps to support your uterus, bowels, and bladder.

Better body awareness

One of the most challenging aspects of mastering crow is bringing more of your body weight into your hands. As you perform this pose, you will find that engaging your core muscles helps support more of your body weight.

Increased focus

Crow pose is a foundational asana, but it’s still challenging for those in yoga practice, even yogis at all levels. Kakasana requires your total focus at a single point ahead of your body as you’re tasked with balancing yourself on your hands.

Arm muscle toning

Regularly practicing crow pose will build a surprising amount of strength in your upper arms and triceps. It also helps keep those same muscles lean and long.

Preparedness for more advanced arm balance asanas

Crow will open doors to more arm balance poses and variations. When you’re in crow pose, you are lower to the floor than with any other arm balance pose, which is a good way to face any fear of falling you may have.

man doing a crow pose outside

5 Crow Pose Alternatives or Variations

There are several modifications, alternatives, or variations of crow pose suitable for beginners to advanced yogis. It’s recommended that you practice these crow variations under the guidance and supervision of a certified yoga instructor.

1. Beginner option to get to Crow Pose

With a pillow or blanket at the top part of your yoga mat, start in Malasana, only bring your head down to the pillow or blanket first. Make sure there is space for your knees in your armpits before you start to step your feet forward. Lift your head off the ground carefully and gradually as you enter the post.

2. An advanced technique to enter crow

If you have already mastered crow from the beginner point, try entering the tripod headstand (Sirsasana II) pose. Come into the Sirsasana II pose first, and then bring your knees up to your triceps while pushing yourself back into crow with your core muscles.

3. An advanced model to get out of crow pose

When you feel comfortable in crow pose, you can jump back into a low plank with your elbows bent. Go through a chaturanga.

4. One-legged crow pose

Use the conventional method of getting into crow pose, but place only one leg into your armpit and then lift the other leg up and behind your body. Balance both hands with one leg extended behind you and one leg in crow.

5. Side crow pose

Again, use the regular mode of entering crow pose. Once your palms are on the floor, pivot the balls of your feet so that each knee faces either the right or left side of your mat. Now, lift your torso and balance both legs on one arm. Try on the other side to maintain balance.

three women doing a crow pose in a yoga studio

The Difference Between Crow and Crane Pose

Don’t confuse crane pose with crow pose as they are different asanas.

The difference between the crow and crane poses in that the crow pose is done with bent elbows, while the crane pose is performed with straight arms.

In the West, both crow and crane pose are called Bakasana. The reason for this is that most Western yoga instructors and schools call the whole evolution crow pose. It’s different in Eastern countries.

We are using Kakasana as is the ancient tradition regarding crow pose.

How to Practice Yoga Safely to Avoid Injury

As yoga becomes more popular in these stressful times, it’s smart to know how to use proper form and safely practice yoga to prevent injuries.

Yoga has benefits even for people with arthritis and back pain, but it’s not wise to go into a yoga practice without first speaking with your doctor, and second getting help from a qualified, certified yoga instructor. Yoga is also beneficial for anxiety, sleep problems, fatigue, depression, and other issues with mental health.

Though yoga has so many physical and mental health benefits, there are still some risks you need to know about before you engage in yoga asanas.

Some poses in yoga involve extreme spine extension or flexion, which can result in compression fractures in patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Also, if you are double-jointed or experience too much mobility, you are also at risk for injury when practicing yoga without the right guidance.

Keep in mind that these risks, while low, with fewer than 1% of those who practice yoga getting injured, if you do get injured, it will end your yoga practice.

Any form of physical activity comes with risks, but yoga, being a low-impact and adaptable form of stretching, comes with less risk than most other forms of exercise.

People 65 and over are at the most risk, though there are people with certain health conditions that could be at risk.

Here are some tips to prevent yoga injuries.

  • Take things slowly and be patient with yourself. The goal is to relieve stress, not create more.
  • Seek out a certified yoga teacher to help you with proper form and getting started from the beginning.
  • Don’t overdo any pose even if you feel like you can go farther.
  • Avoid repeated and long-held bending poses to prevent potential overextension.
  • Mix up your exercise routine by walking one day, doing cardio or other exercise another day, and yoga on a given day.
  • Use straps, blocks, and other yoga accessories to boost your practice and to make challenging poses easier.
  • Listen to your body and avoid going too far with poses or stretches.
  • Experiment with different yoga styles to find the one that fits you.
woman doing a crow pose outside on the grass

Top Tips for Mastering Crow

Before concluding this yoga article, we will go over the top tips that will help you master Crow Pose. Not only will these tips help you master crow, they will also help to prevent injury.

Eyes: Keep your eyes focused on a specific point to help you maintain balance and composure throughout the asana. Keep your chin lifted and your eye gaze steady as you lift up your torso for crow pose. Remember, your body goes where your eyes go, so avoid looking down.

Hands: Your hands are your base through the crow pose. It’s vital that you place very little weight on your wrists. Push your body weight into the front of the hands. You can do this by clawing the yoga mat with your fingers. If you push off with nearly cupped palms, you can engage your forearms.

Elbows: You need to squeeze your elbows toward each other and avoid letting them flare out. Consider the elbow and arm placement in chaturanga. Remember that crane pose features straight arms and crow pose features bent elbows.

Feet: As you’re advancing toward the crow, squeeze your heels upward to your tailbone and your feet toward one another.

Core: Core engagement is a big part of crow. Your core should be engaged the entire time. Squeeze everything toward your midline.


Proper form is one of the most important factors in practicing yoga. Using the right form for each asana helps you move smoothly from pose to pose, while avoiding injuries.

The benefits of crow pose range from strengthening your wrists and arms to your core. Just like all yoga poses, your mental and physical health can benefit from mastering Crow Pose.

Take care to avoid injuries by listening to your qualified yoga instructor and your body. The tips provided in this instructional guide will also help you enjoy a better yoga experience.

Please remember that the crow pose is not beginner-friendly, but there are modifications you can use to work up to mastery of the pose. As you advance, slowly and carefully, you will find yourself getting stronger and better at crow.

Also, take precautions if you have carpal tunnel, osteoporosis, or other health conditions where crow pose may be unsafe for you to practice. It’s okay to use an easier and less advanced alternative to crow pose if your body isn’t capable of the advanced method.

Yoga is about balance, healing, meditation, focus, and overall good health. By using the right form, you are helping yourself to sleep better, feel better, and enjoy a better quality of life.

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