Crow Pose (Kakasana) is an advanced yoga pose. It’s a tricky asana that involves a heck-ton of balance. But once you get to grips with Crow Pose, you’ll be well on your way to bird-yoga nirvana.
You’ll probably end up falling flat on your face a few times while working on this, but everyone has to start somewhere, especially with a spiritual and physical practice as old and established as yoga.
Successfully performing Crow Pose opens up a whole new realm of skill and balance. We’re here to help you fly the nest.
Kundalini yoga is incredibly popular in the United States (alongside Vinyasa and Hatha schools of yoga). Kundalini yoga is an ancient yogic practice that Yogi Bhajan popularized in the West during in the 1970s.
Kundalini yoga places importance not just on physical movement but also on breathing, meditation, and chanting. You pair every action and posture with a specific breath and meditation, making for a holistic spiritual experience that’s good for your feels as well as your body.
In Kundalini yoga, Crow Pose is a hella important posture. Chakras are a big part of the ancient spiritual beliefs underpinning Kundalini practice. According to Kundalini practitioners, Crow Pose works your first and second chakras simultaneously (the root and sacral chakras, in your groin and belly, respectively).
Crow Pose crops up in every yoga school you can think of, even those based purely on physical movement and stretching.
Spiritual beliefs are up to the beholder, so we’re not going to start debating chakras and the spiritual side of Kundalini. What we are going to do is show you how to get your Crow Pose in check and highlight its many benefits.
Here’s the step-by-step guide to Crow Pose:
- Bend your knees and plant your palms on the mat about 1 foot in front of your feet. Make sure you keep your fingers spread wide — you’re gonna need all the support you can get.
- Bring the weight of your lower half onto the balls of your feet.
- Pull your knees up to the backs of your upper arms.
- Put all your weight onto your hands. Lift your head as you do this.
- With your weight on your arms, first come up on your tippy-toes, and then lift your feet off the mat one after the other.
- Keep your knees locked into your upper arms, using your powerful thighs for support.
- Bring your feet in toward your butt cheeks.
- Hold for as long as you can/need to.
- Exhale, and then shift your weight back slowly until your feet make contact with the mat.
There are plenty of perks to getting your Crow on.
While research on Crow Pose specifically is nonexistent, yoga provides a range of benefits as a wider practice. And if you’re at the point where Crow Pose comes easy, you’ve likely been doing yoga long enough to have sustainably nurtured your mind and body.
Firstly, Crow Pose is a balance pose. You’ll be wobbling a lot the first few times you do it unless you’re an experienced yoga pro (trust us). Keep at it!
Working on Kakasana is one of many opportunities yoga gives you to boost your sense of balance. A small 2019 study on the effects of yoga in kids ages 10 to 12 found that 8 weeks of regular yoga practice led to significant improvements in balance.
The same 2019 review found that yoga can improve folks’ perception of their own mental health. It’s not the first research to do so, either.
A 2017 review concluded that yoga may have a positive effect on psychological well-being, although no more than other physical activity (and the study authors noted that more research is needed).
And in 2020, researchers found that yoga may also be a helpful therapy for mental health difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other possible benefits
Research has uncovered other potential perks of yoga, including:
The best route to a centered yoga lifestyle isn’t always as the crow flies. There are deviations and variations you can take to build up to Crow Pose or make it even harder.
Crane Pose: How is it different from Crow Pose?
Crow Pose = bent arms. Crane Pose = straight arms. That’s the difference.
Crane Pose (Bakasana) is more or less exactly the same, but you have to fully straighten your arms and keep them that way. It requires a bit more arm strength than Crow.
In terms of more advanced variations, you might feel brave enough to attempt Parsva Bakasana, aka Side Crow. Here’s how to go about it:
- Start with your palms flat on the mat and your body weight resting on the balls of feet. Keep your legs tucked, as in the classic Crow Pose.
- Gently lean forward, keeping your head high.
- Allow your arms to bend forward at the elbows into an almost 90-degree angle. They’ll need to serve as little platforms.
- Place the weight of your hips on your right arm, and your knees on your left arm.
- Continue your forward leaning until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Gently bring your feet off the mat until you’re balancing on just your hands. Your legs should be held tightly together, tilted to your left side.
- Hold it.
- Gently lean back until your feet are back on the mat. Then mirror the movements to repeat on the other side.
Another advanced Crow variation is One-Legged Crow:
- Start as you would for classic Crow Pose: palms flat on mat, balls of feet, legs tucked into triceps (you know the deal by now).
- Lean forward as in Crow Pose, but don’t keep your head up high this time — make sure it’s pointed downward. You’re going to need it for counterbalance.
- When your weight is fully tilted forward and you feel stable, extend one leg, keeping it elevated.
- Hold for as long as is comfortable.
- Reverse until you’re back at step one, then repeat (but mirrored) for your other side.
This variation requires a heck-load of core, chest, and leg strength. Plus, you’ll be using all your balance powers, because it’s even more of a wobble-inducer than regular Kakasana.
Once you’re a Crow Pose pro, one of the next steps is to use it as a transition posture into a headstand (and back again). Here’s how you do it:
- Get yourself into full Crow Pose, balancing on your arms.
- Gradually let your head sink toward the floor, until the top of your head touches the mat. Tuck your chin in a bit to help make this easier.
- Squeeze your inner thighs and tighten your core to keep steady.
- Slowly extend your legs, lifting your toes until you’re in a full headstand.
To get out of headstand and back to Crow, just reverse the above steps.
Crow Pose is an intermediate yoga pose. What’s more, it’s all about balancing on your hands. It can look pretty intimidating to the yoga beginner.
Don’t worry, though — it’s completely possible to work your way up to Crow Pose. Building a sturdy foundation of general yoga is helpful, of course. But you can also incorporate props like yoga blocks to make the move a bit easier at first.
Using yoga props to learn Crow Pose
Yoga blocks can serve as a set of Crow Pose training wheels. Here’s how you can use them:
- Try placing a yoga block or two under your head to stop you from toppling forward.
- Elevate your feet by standing them on a block before you start. The higher perch makes it easier to lift your legs and butt as you shift all your weight onto your arms.
- Combine the two for extra support!
Don’t have any yoga blocks on hand? No problem! Find a wall. Walls are the most accessible yoga prop of all. Here’s how to bring a wall into your developing Crow Pose game:
- Hunch as you would when starting your Kakasana, facing away from the wall (with your heels just about touching it).
- As you tilt forward into Crow Pose, support yourself by walking your feet up the wall.
- As you get more confident, you can place less weight on the wall, using it either to lean against while you build your arm strength or just as a mental comfort to help you build trust in your rad balancing skills.
Beginner yoga poses to train for Crow Pose
Some yoga poses can help you strengthen the muscles you’ll need for Crow Pose, including:
- Cat Pose (Marjarysana) for your spine
- Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) for inner thigh strength (low-key important in Crow Pose)
- Warrior III (Vibrabhadrasana III), a super-helpful pose for balance building before more advanced balance poses like Crow Pose
- Half Boat (Ardha Navasana), which can help you to build your core strength enough to support your body weight in Crow Pose
- Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) for building up both arm strength and balance before giving Crow a go
Most Crow Pose mistakes come not from lack of arm strength but from a less-than-acute sense of balance.
Ignoring your center of gravity
Crow Pose is all about moving your center of gravity to a position that makes supporting your weight on your arms way easier. If you find you’re still wobbling around when you’re in Crow mode, staying mindful of your center of gravity could help you maintain control.
Not keeping your head raised
Another common error fledgling Crows make is not keeping their head lifted and looking forward.
If your head is facing downward, it can drag you down with it (your head is heavy, after all). You need to keep your head up. Otherwise, you’ll find the whole “balancing on your hands” thing super difficult.
Crow Pose is an intermediate-to-advanced balance posture, particularly used in the Kundalini school of yoga (although it’s present across pretty much every type of yoga practice).
You enter Crow Pose by leaning your weight onto your hands, pulling your knees into the backs of your upper arms, and tilting forward until your feet lift from the floor. Maintain a focus on your center of gravity — that’s the trick to holding the pose. Advanced forms include Crane Pose and Side Crow Pose.
There are a bunch of mental and physical health benefits to yoga that also apply to Crow Pose. But because it’s an intermediate posture, you may need to get a few of the more basic yoga positions down before unleashing your inner crow.