Crow Pose (Kakasana)

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Crow Pose, Kakasana, (kah-KAH-suh-nuh)

kaka (crow) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Frog Stand

Pose Type: Balancing, Strengthening

Difficulty: Intermediate

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crow pose, also known as crane pose

This compact arm balance requires lazer sharp focus and concentration, and engaged abs

Crow Pose Fundamentals

Kakasana, Crow pose, is a challenging arm balance that can seem daunting to budding yogis and one that literally keeps advanced yogis on their toes.

Doesn’t one need jacked arms to attempt this pose? Shouldn’t one be the definition of “fit” and perfect balance? Students sometimes fear this pose as they see it as a one-way ticket to collapsing forward.

The truth is, with time, practice and patience, anyone can master Crow pose.

More than balance or strength, the key to mastering this pose is to trust yourself.

It can be the type of pose that we regularly look up how to perform correctly because we may not trust we are doing it right. We encourage you to approach this pose with an easy-breezy attitude and whether you lift off or not to let yourself have fun purposely throwing yourself off balance.

Crow pose is more accessible to students since the elbows remain bent and you are closer to the ground. In crane pose, you straighten out the elbows and lift further off the ground making it a bit more challenging. It’s recommended students master crow before advancing into crane pose.

Imagine bringing all the pieces of yourself together connecting arms to knees, core to spine, and mind to body.

There is a great sense of accomplishment when you take flight in Kakasana. This pose can feel impossible until it’s possible. Then you soar.

Crow Pose Benefits

  • Improves focus, balance, and coordination
  • Stretches the muscles of the back, spine, hips, and glutes
  • Strengthens and tones the core, chest, and back muscles that support the spine
  • Hygienic for the shoulder and scapula, creating greater shoulder stability and mobility
  • Creates strength and elasticity in stiff wrists and tense hands
  • Strengthens the arms, shoulders, and forearms

How To Do Crow Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Come to squat on the floor. Your arches can come together or be hip-width apart. Bring your knees as wide as your yoga mat. You can keep the heels lifted or plant the feet down.

2. Wrap the arms around your bent legs and mindfully squeeze your knees or shins into your triceps or armpits and vice versa, activating your core and helping lift you to avoid dumping into your bones. Plant the palms 6-8 inches in front of you, shoulder distance apart, with a soft bend in the elbows. Keep integrity in your hands as they will sustain you in the balance.

3. Crawl the shoulders together and down. Keep the neck nice and long. Imagine a line from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone.

4. Drive your navel into the spine engaging your core. Keep your gaze forward out in front of you.

5. Come onto the toes and practice finding your balance by resting the legs back and forth onto the upper arms until you find stability. Play with lifting one foot at a time. Lift your tailbone up towards the sky. Broaden through the upper back (think cat pose). Imagine a bird about to take flight.

6. Incline your chest forward until your center of gravity shifts, both feet lift, and your elbows are stacked over your wrists (think Chaturanga arms). Continue to hug everything into the midline as you take flight.

7. Keep a brightness in the entire body. Heels can hug into the glutes. For more sensation practice straightening the elbows in crane. Stay for 2-5 breaths and practice extending that time as your crow/ crane practice grows.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crow pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • Grab a block and use it as a perch to lift the knees higher.
  • Stay connected to your breath. While we are playing with suspending ourselves in this arm balance if you do manage to take flight careful not to suspend your breath.
  • Hug your inner groin into the pelvis to help you lift and avoid dumping into the shoulders, palms, and wrists.
  • The closer the knees or shins are to the shoulders, the easier it will be to balance. Practice resting them anywhere from the elbow to the shoulder.
  • Remember being a kid and toppling over in a somersault for your own amusement? Bone stacking is important but don’t be afraid to have fun throwing yourself off balance on purpose!

Crow Pose Variation:

Crow Pose Variation: Crow with a block

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crow pose with her feet on a block

Grab a block and use it as a perch to lift the hips and knees higher. Use two blocks if you ware wanting to keep the feet apart. Practice lifting one leg at a time and work toward lifting both legs. Place a blanket or bolster on the ground in front of you if you are afraid of toppling forward.

Crow Pose Variation: Baby Crow (Elbows On The Ground)

Try baby crow on the elbows which can be much more accessible for students still building up arm and shoulder strength.

Place both forearms on the ground at a 90-degree angle stacking shoulders over the elbows and wrists in line with the elbows. Tuck your knees into the chest, lean forward, and lift up, resting the knees on the triceps. This pose gives you the added support of the forearms and keeps you closer to the ground.

Crow Pose Variation: Reclined Kakasana (Crow Pose)

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing reclined crow pose

Try this pose with the support of the earth by laying on your back and connecting to crow pose in a reclined position. We recommend doing this so you can feel the pose in your body before placing weight on your arms.

Lie on your back and hug the knees into the chest. Walk the shoulder blades in together and down. Bring the arches together. Widen your knees in this flipped-over crow. Lift your tailbone up to the sky so the back becomes flush with the mat and activates the core. Press the palms up towards the ceiling, stacking over the shoulders.

Practice hugging everything into the midline. With the arms still extended, play with drawing the knees closer to the elbows or triceps and the base of the palms to the toes.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common Misalignments:

Try not to let your feet splay out too far and create hyperextension in the knee joints and an unstable foundation.

Falling too far forward and dumping into the wrists and shoulders. Practice lifting up through the palms to avoid collapsing into your bones.

Wrist Or Arm Injury

If dealing with any pain in the wrist please skip this pose or practice it reclining on your back.

Shoulder Injuries

If recovering from shoulder surgery or a shoulder injury it’s best to skip this pose and opt for Malasana (Garland) pose instead.

Related Poses

Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Preparatory Poses:

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Chaturanga (Four Limbed Stafffed Pose)

Virasana (Hero’s Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Butterfly)

Counter Poses:

Marjaryasana Bitilasana (Cat-Cow)

Navasana (Boat Pose)

Ardha Purvottanasana (Reversed Table Top)

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Anna is a lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to those in underrepresented communities.

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