Crow Pose - Bakasana Variations

8 Challenging Variations of The Crow Pose (Bakasana)

The Crow — known as the arm balance bakasana or kakasana in yoga — is one of the most basic arm balances.

And it is of extreme importance to your health.

You may be wondering why...

As we go from climbing and rolling around as kids to a restricted life of sitting and walking as adults, our upper bodies rapidly lose strength.

Upper body and arm strength is important to keep yourself healthy and "physically young".

The Crow is an excellent way to regain the strength, balance and coordination that will revert our aging process.

Variations of the Crow

1. Kakasana: Arms Bent (Beginners)

Kakasana Crow Pose Beginners

This is the first and easiest variation.

Bend your arms and support your inner thighs. Keep your toes on the floor, and slowly try to lift one foot up. If you got it, try to lift the other leg up.

How To Perform It:

Balancing in this pose is not so hard, but if you are not strong enough yet, you may feel scared to do this pose.

First, correctly training for push ups (or chaturanga) is important to strengthen your arms in all balances.

Second, make sure you're very comfortable in this variation of headstand:

Bakasana Headstand

Make sure it's the crown of your head touching the floor, not the forehead.

You may feel nervous doing headstands for the first time, but it will get easier as you practice.

Make sure you remove any objects around you that may hurt you if you fall!

If it's still difficult for you, follow this Crow Tutorial from Antranik.

Now is not the right time?

2. Bakasana: Arms Straight (Advanced)

Bakasana or Crane Pose Arms Straight

If you got a hold of the first variation, try bringing your knees as close as you can to your chest and your feet as close as you can to your buttocks.

How To Perform This Pose

By getting strength and awareness to bring your knees close to your chest, straigthening the arms becomes easier and will put less strain on your wrists:

Bakasana Preparation Knee to Chest

Practice this variation of the tiger bringing one knee as close as you can to your chest.

Try to touch your chest if possible and hold it for 30 seconds on each side.

Don't tense your shoulders or your neck. Instead, focus on bringing the knee close to your chest and your heel to your buttocks.

If you feel it on your thigh, you're doing it right.

3. Eka Pada Bakasana: One-legged Crow

One-legged Crow Eka Pada Bakasana

Eka Pada means one-legged and in this case, the back leg is straigthened in line with your torso, in a 45-degree line.

If you are more flexible, your leg can even go almost upright to 90 degrees.

Preparation

If you have the strength in your arms required to do this pose but have a hard time bringing the back leg straight, try to hold the lunge for one minute on each side:

Lunge Preparation for Bakasana

Make sure to keep your back leg as straight as you can. If you have lower back pain in this variation, bring your feet closer together.

4. Parsva Bakasana: Side Crow

Parsva Bakasana Side Crow

The side crow can be performed with the knees bent first as an easier variation.

Having strength in your arms is definitely important for this balance, but so is getting more comfortable and gaining flexibility in the twisting:

Twist for Parsva Bakasana Ardha Matsyendrasana

Make sure that you can do this twisting variation comfortably, without straining your shoulders when you twist.

5. Yoga Dandasana Balance

Yoga Dandasana Arm Balance

Similar to the side crow, this balance however requires even more flexibility in the hips.

Make sure to have an adecuate warm-up before trying it:

Preparation for Yoga Dandasana

Try this twisting variation and if you can hold your foot comfortably on your forearm, the balance will be easy.

If your hip is very tense or your foot slides, keep working on the twist for some time before going for the balance.

6. Flying Pigeon

Flying Pigeon Eka Pada Galavasana

This balance is one of the toughest in the list as the final variation is to try to bring the leg and hips completely parallel to the floor.

On the other side, an easier variation is to bring the hip up.

To prepare properly:

Bring your foot as close as you can to your chest while keeping your back straight:

Pigeon Pose Preparation

Once you can bring your knee and foot in one straight line, you'll have an easier time in the balance.

7. Eight Angles Pose: Asta Vakrasana

Asta Vakrasana Eight Angles Arm Balance

Although not technically a variation of the crow pose, you can get into this pose directly from the crow pose.

Make sure to keep both shoulders in line with the floor and arms in 90 degrees.

Developing your strength in wide push ups is important so that you don't put too much strain on your shoulders and wrists.

8. Eka Pada Koundinyasana II: Splits Arm Balance

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II

This is another arm balance that can be followed up from the crow or the eight-angle pose.

To practice it, bring the toes on the back leg on the floor and slowly try to bring the toes up from the floor.

Getting better at splits will definitely help but don't worry if your splits are not perfect — this balance only requires that you can go a little bit beyond 90 degrees and you're set.

Final Relaxation

Savasana Final Relaxation

Rest is incredibly important in any physically or mentally demanding task in order for your body to recover and for your mind to learn new information.

Make sure to take a few minutes to relax and rest, ideally if you can in a quiet place.

Kakasana: Meaning and History

What does bakasana mean?

Kaka means "crow".

Crows are known for their intelligence and in yoga, this pose resembles how we balance ourselves in the pose and in our emotions.

Kakasana comes from Crow in Sanskrit

In India, crows are given food as an offering in some festivities, as they are believed to be ancestors who passed away.

Extra Tips

1. Pain in the wrists and shoulders:

This a common problem and it usually comes from incorrect form.

Make sure you can hold the plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute and to practice correct push ups before trying arm balances.

Also, if you have a history of past injuries avoid training too hard on any arm balance.

2. Should you "hold your breath"?

The quick answer is no: if you hold your breathe or tense your abdomen, this and many other poses become very difficult to hold for longer times.

Try to breathe normally, just like when you go for a walk.

As we learn and get used to the poses, in the beginning we have little control of your breathing, hence why you may hold your breath and think that this is the way to go.

If you know how to swim, you may remember that the process of learning how to inhale on the surface and exhale underwater is complicated and hard to master.

But once you get a hang of it, you can swim in a very relaxed manner.

However, if you don't learn how to breathe properly, you will be very tense and you won't be able to swim comfortably for a longer period of time.

Your swimming will look and feel unnatural. Same applies here.

3. How long does it take to master these balances?

A common trap is to try to compare your progress with another person's. This makes you injury prone which will set you even further back.

A strong or flexible person may get basic arm balance in just a few tries while it may take others weeks or even months.

Avoid falling into the pitfall of comparing your progress with others.

As an example, it will be much easier in the beginning for someone who knows how to roller blade to learn how to ice skate, compared to a person who has never skated.

Don't be discouraged and keep practicing under the right guidance!

Gain Flexibility And Strength the Right Way.

Better flexibility, mobility, and strength translate to better physical health.

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Comments and Questions

I hope you enjoyed today's guide!

Which one is your favorite arm balance and which is one is the most challenging for you?

Let me know in the comments!

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MF
MF