Crane pose, crane posture or bakasana in Sanskrit (baka, meaning crane) is a challenging intermediate-level yoga pose, but also one of the first that you will come across on your arm balancing yoga journey.
At a glance, crane pose involves balancing on the palms, knees tucked into the body with the feet in the air.
It is physically demanding, but equally rewarding in both building strength and the various paths it opens up in terms of more advanced arm balance yoga poses.
Whether you are looking to learn crane pose or crow pose, our step by step guide includes everything you need to know.
The Difference Between Crane Pose and Crow Pose
The Difference Between Bakasana and Kakasana
Crane pose and crow pose are often confused with one another in the yoga community, even among practiced yogis and yoginis!
So, before we learn how to do the crane pose, let’s come to understand the difference between the two yoga poses.
Crane pose and crow pose (kakasana, kaka meaning crow) both involve balancing on the palms with the knees tucked and the feet lifted off the floor. However, the simple difference between the two poses is that the crow pose is performed with bent arms, while the crane pose is performed with straight arms.
Traditionally, the crane pose is considered more difficult due to the fact that it requires greater balance and a basic level of straight arm strength.
It is recommended, then, to master the crow pose before crane pose. However, you can still follow our crane pose guide below as the techniques involved are almost identical.
Benefits of Crane Pose
What Are the Benefits of Crane Yoga Pose?
There are many benefits to learning the crane pose as well as mastering the crane pose. Just a few of these we have listed below.
- Improved upper body strength – grow stronger delts, traps and biceps.
- Improved wrist strength – stronger wrists will reduce the overall risk of future joint complications.
- Improved balance – the crane pose is a great introduction to proprioception.
- Skills – mastering the crane pose is a gateway to other impressive arm balance yoga poses such as the handstand and peacock pose.
How to Do Crane Pose Step by Step
First off, there are two ways to perform the crane pose. The first is with the knees outside of the arms. The second is with the knees “resting” on the triceps muscles.
The first version of the crane pose (knees outside the arms) is considered easier, as it doesn’t require you to lean forwards as much. The more you have to lean forwards, the more balance will be required to hold the pose.
With that said, let’s get into it.
Before practicing these steps, make sure to have warmed up your wrists!
- From a standing position, bend over forwards, placing your palms on the floor. Your hands should be positioned slightly inside of your shoulders, with your fingers outstretched.
- Position your feet directly behind your palms. Your toes should be touching your wrists.
- Position your knees outside of your arms, or with your kneecaps touching the upper part of your triceps.
- Keeping your arms straight (elbows locked), start leaning forwards, shifting your body weight onto your palms. As your shoulders go past your hands, your feet should lift off of the floor.
- Use your fingertips and lower palms to “rock” or shift your weight, maintaining balance as needed. If you feel yourself tipping forwards, press your fingertips into the floor. If you feel yourself tipping backwards, push your lower palms into the floor. Hold the crane pose as long as you can.
And that’s it!
Don’t forget: if you are learning the crow pose before the crane pose, you can bend your elbows at step four. Similarly, if the crane pose proves too difficult at this point in your journey, give yourself permission to bend your elbows to make the pose easier.
Build Strength for Crane Pose
You might find it difficult to lift your feet off the floor, especially for your first few attempts – or first few weeks. This is OK! It simply means your shoulders need to get used to bearing the weight.
Thankfully, there are ways that you can strengthen your shoulders for crane pose.
If you feel you are leaning forwards enough in the pose but you are not strong enough to lift your feet, you can strengthen your upper body by doing sets of push-ups. You can do these with your toes or knees on the floor, depending on your ability.
Other exercises you can do to get strong for crane pose include downward dog, four-limbed staff pose and pike holds. Do one or two of these exercises a few times a week to build crane pose strength, as well as improve your overall crane pose hold.
Alternatively, you can also get stronger for crane pose by simply leaning into the position. In this case, instead of trying to hold the pose for time, condition your shoulders by “rocking” into the crane pose for a quick second, before returning to your feet. You can do this multiple times as part of an exercise routine.
Crane Pose Tips
Learn the crane pose faster with these useful crane pose tips.
- Scared to fall forwards? Set a cushion or pillow in front of yourself while you practice, or place a small block or stack of books to rest your forehead on as you lean forwards.
- You can exit the crane pose safely by performing a forward roll.
- Try not to flare your elbows when doing the crane pose. Correct form and safe form is to make sure your elbows are tucked into your ribs.
- Always warm up your wrists before practicing any arm balance yoga moves. This will prevent any injuries or post-practice soreness.
While the crane pose is an intermediate yoga pose, it is perfectly suitable for experienced yoga students as well as beginners with adequate upper body strength.
What’s more is that there are also easier variations of the crane pose that can be practiced beforehand. These include the crow pose and baby crow pose.
And don’t forget: both crane pose and crow pose are not all about raw strength. They involve an equal amount of strength and balance!