Crane Pose (Bakasana)

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Crane Pose, Bakasana, (buk-AHS-uh-nuh)

baka (crane) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Bakasana

Pose Type: Balancing, Strengthening

Difficulty: Intermediate

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crane pose

Get into flight mode and transfer your limits with Crane Pose.

Crane Pose Fundamentals

Crane Pose is one of the most popular arm-balance poses, and one of the first students usually learn. It is an advanced version of Crow Pose, so you should master that asana first before going into Crane.

The pose is called Bakasana in Sanskrit, which literally translates to Crane Pose. It got its name because the practitioner appears like a crane bird, with the hands mimicking its long legs, and the body standing tall above them.

Crane pose looks simple, but it is an advanced pose, as you need a lot of strength, focus, and balancing experience to hold yourself up.

It is natural to be afraid of falling forward, but having experience with Crow Pose and staying strong in your core will help you overcome that.

On a psychological level, this pose helps relieve negative emotions and brings a sense of stability and concentration. Physically, it will strengthen your arms, shoulders, wrists, core, and upper back.

The Crane Pose was mentioned in many yoga texts, including those written by Dharma Mittra, where the distinction between Crane and Crow Pose was first made.

The pose was also mentioned in the 19th-century text Sritattvanidhi, and in the Hatha Ratnavali, where it was mentioned among the 84 poses taught by Shiva himself.

The crane is also a significant symbol in Asian culture, both crane and crow represent God’s messengers, as they’re believed to be able to travel between material and spiritual words.

Energetically, Crane Pose activates multiple chakras—the Root, Solar Plexus, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown Chakra.

In this way, it may bring balance within your entire energetic body, allowing you to observe and release any blocks.

Crane Pose & The Mahabharata

In yoga, this pose is inspired by a story in the Mahabharata. The crane appears in a forest where the five brothers, Pancha Padavas lived in exile. The crane killed all brothers except for Yudhishthira because they drank lake water without his approval.

Yudhishthira calmed his rage and sorrow and tried to understand what has happened with a calm mind. The crane then told him he can drink the water and revive one of his brothers if he answers 124 questions – and he answered them all. In the end, the crane revived all his brothers as he saw his fairness and wisdom.

This story shows how honest communication and a calm demeanor can turn even the biggest enemy into a friend.

Turning back to the practice of Bakasana, we can use it with the intention to be able to show forgiveness, sympathy, and kindness, just like the crane did in the end.

Furthermore, the crane is a symbol of a youthful spirit and happiness – and this pose may also bring one to a state of joy.

When a pose is challenging as Bakasana, these stories and deeper intentions may help us approach it with more awareness and use it for self-growth.

Crane Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the arms, core, shoulders, and wrists.
  • Improves coordination and balance skills.
  • Encourages focus, patience, and body awareness.
  • Boosts endurance and prepares the body for more advanced arm balances.
  • Improves the strength and flexibility of the back, especially the upper back.
  • Stimulates the digestive system and boosts its function.
  • Traditionally practiced to help combat symptoms of depression and anxiety, because it brings a sense of joy.
annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing crane pose

How To Do Crane Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

  1. Begin squatting in Malasana or Garland Pose. Move your feet closer, to hip distance. Keep the whole soles of the feet on the ground, and place the elbows inside your knees.
  2. Push the elbows into the knee, opening the inner thighs. Keep the spine long.
  3. Hold Malasana for a couple of deep breaths to open the thighs.
  4. When you’re ready, place the palms on the floor in front of the feet. Press the palms firmly into the floor, and raise up into Standing Forward Bend. Bend the chest as close to your thighs as you can.
  5. Hold the pose for a couple of breaths to open the shoulders and the upper back.
  6. Then, walk your feet inward, so you can place the knees close to the armpits and the upper arms, and keep the shins close to the backs of the elbows. 
  7. Lift the heels, and root the knees in the armpits. By balancing your toes, you’ll automatically shift more weight on the arms.
  8. With an inhale, engage your core, bend your torso, and lift your feet off the floor. 
  9. In the beginning, your elbows might be bent slightly, but then, try to activate the core and the shoulders to lift the body higher and straighten the arms. 
  10. Focus on your breath and look down, keeping the neck parallel to the floor. 
  11. In the beginning, you might be able to hold the pose only for a brief moment, but as you progress, try to hold it for 4 to 6 breaths.
  12. Slowly release and get back to Malasana (Garland Pose). 

Tips And Tricks:

  • Crane Pose is a challenging pose, so you should follow alignment cues to stay safe. For example, you should avoid placing too much pressure on the elbows while lifting.
  • Push the legs back behind you and gaze down to help you with balance. You can also keep the toes of the feet together, but that depends on your preference.
  • Crane is a progression from Crow Pose, where the arms are still bent, and you won’t be able to enter it if you don’t master Crow Pose first.
  • The center of your weight in this asana is just above the navel. You will feel more stable if you bring that part of the body directly above the center between the hands.
  • If you fall – get up and try again. No one mastered an arm balance on the first try, and it can be a wonderful opportunity to practice patience and persistence.
  • If you’re afraid of falling on your head, place pillows and blankets in front of you to cushion your fall.
  • You can ask a friend or a teacher to support you while still learning the pose.
  • Gaze down and slightly forward – looking back towards the feet may make you lose balance.
  • Avoid spreading the elbows wide, as that may put too much pressure on the wrists. Keep the shoulders, elbows, and hands in the same line.
  • Avoid slippery clothing, as that may make your knees slide down your arms.
  • Spread your fingers wide and grip the ground to feel stronger.
  • Keep your core engaged – this is where you’ll get most of your strength.

Crane Pose Variation:

Crane Pose Variation: With Props

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

There are multiple ways in which you can help yourself in Crane Pose with props. 

If you’re afraid you’ll topple forward, place a blanket or a cushion below your head, so it softens your fall.

You can also place blocks below your feet to practice lifting the body without having to use as much arm and core strength. For even more support, you can lift the legs on a chair. 

You can also place a blanket or blocks under your palms to help you with the lift-off and to remove some pressure from the wrists.

Crane Pose Variation: One Leg Lifted

The easiest way to learn Crane Pose is to lift only one leg at a time.

In this manner, you’ll slowly get a feel of the pose, and you’ll feel more confident when you’re ready to lift both feet off the ground. 

Crane Pose Variation: Crow Pose

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

Crane and Crow are similar and often confused with each other. However, there are differences that make the Crow Pose much easier than Crane.

In Crow Pose, the upper torso is parallel with the floor, while it is inclined diagonally towards the ground in Crane Pose. This difference is subtle but changes the effect of the pose on the chest and shoulders. 

The biggest difference, however, are the arms – they are bent in Crow and straight in Crane Pose, which makes the latter much more difficult to attain.

For this reason, you should master Crow Pose before going into Crane. Find our detailed instructions for entering Crow Pose here. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Splaying the elbows. Keep the elbows in the same line as the shoulders and wrists, to avoid putting too much pressure on the wrists, which can lead to injury.

Centering the weight on only one part of the hands. Your hands should form claws, gripping the floor, and you should spread the weight evenly throughout the entire palms, wrists, and all fingers on both hands. 

Hips are too low. Beginners will often sink their hips down because they’re afraid of falling, but this moves the center of gravity lower and makes it impossible to lift off. Think about resisting gravity and lifting the hips towards the sky, even before you lift the hips. 

Injuries and Conditions

Avoid if you’re still recovering from an injury to the hips, knees, shoulders, and wrists. Also, avoid it if you’re suffering from a migraine, as the bent-down position may only increase the problem. Due to balancing, avoid it if you have blood pressure problems, and also don’t practice if you have carpal tunnel syndrome due to the pressure on the wrists. The pose should not be practiced by pregnant women. 

Related Poses

Crow Pose

Side Crow Pose

Firefly Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Garland Pose

Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Boat Pose

Counter Poses:

Child’s Pose

Camel Pose

Ragdoll Pose

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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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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