Yoga: Do you Crane or Crow?

Kathryn Budig Bakasan

If you’ve ever attended a Yoga workshop on Arm Balances, you may have been told that Crane and Crow Pose are one and the same, you may have received different directions for knee and shin placement, or instructed to squat either with your feet together or hip-width apart, depending on your tutor. Well be confused no more! Read on for the definitive guide to Crow versus Crane.

Bakasana – Crane, and Kakasana – Crow, are the same pose execept for elbows: Straight in Crane and bent (as in Chaturanga Dandasana) for Crow. says:

Both postures – crane pose and crow pose – originate from the same origin, the bakasana pose. The simplest way to describe the difference is to label crane pose as the progression up from crow.

So what is the difference?

As with many yoga postures, crane and crow are frequently confused for one another, especially as different schools of yoga practice often have different names for things.

The key difference between the two poses is that crow pose is performed with bent arms whereas crane pose is performed with straight arms.


Crow pose is usually the first step to learning Crane.

Crow pose is easier as your bent elbows allow you a little more flexibility in regards to your positioning; Crane is much less forgiving as you hold yourself up with a higher centre of gravity.Crow_Crane_Bakasana

Tips to a successful crane and crow pose:

  • Wide set fingers – increase the surface area of your hands and thus create a larger point of contact with the ground. Press your knuckles into the mat, lift the centre of your palms up. Feel the space between the middle of your palms and the floor. Press into the base of the index fingers. Feel the outer sides of your wrists on the mat.
  • Look forward –  your head is heavy, so you can easily become unbalanced if you allow your head’s weight to shift towards your hands, which can happen when you look down or in at your hands. To stay balanced look forward, this will keep your head’s weight in a constant position.
  • Place a pillow/blanket in front of yourself – if you are trying crow pose for the first time or trying to progress to crane pose, place a pillow beneath your head in order to avoid your face meeting the floor! It is also a good idea to not have the pillow/soft surface under your hands so that you have a stronger base.
  • Be brave! The worse thing that can happen is a very short fall!

So now you know!

Teaching Crow Pose for Beginners:

Squat on a brick, feet together, knees out to the sides.

Walk your hands out, like in Hare Pose. Then walk them back, knees in to your armpits, shins against triceps. Lean forward, look forward, rounding your back like in Cat Pose. Tummy back to your spine. Psoas is working, Ql’s are lengthening. The whole body is integrated from top of your head down to your toes. Keep leaning forward. Elbows are bent like in Chaturanga Dandasana. Upper arms rotate externally, lower arms rotate internally. Extend into the base of your index fingers. Press left and right out sides of your wrists onto the mat. Long part of your shins are balanced on long part of the back of your arms. Allow your feet to lift up off the block. Keep looking forward.

To quote Sybille Dallmann (AMAZING Yoga Teacher in Dublin, see Yoga Dublin Studios & Yoga Hub for timetable), “Lean in to Reality”. When doing Arm Balances, lean your legs in to your arms, look forward and remember to “Lean in to Reality”. As soon as you use the word “Should” you are avoiding reality. Work with the body you have here today and lean in to it. Maybe your toes may even lift off the brick, one foot at a time, or both off the floor, and you can fly!

Happy here?

Option 1: Go to Crane Pose, Bakasana.

Squeeze the legs against the arms, press the inner hands firmly to the floor and (with an inhalation) straighten the elbows. Seen from the side the arms are angled slightly forward relative to the floor. The inner knees are glued to the outer arms, high up near the armpits. Keep the head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor, or lift the head slightly, without compressing the back of the neck, and look forward.

Option 2: From Crow, elbows bent, come into simple tripod headstand by placing the crown of your head on the floor. Shins crossed like in Lotus, or straighten your legs up to the ceiling, all the way!

Here Kathryn Budig shows you how:

Option 3: From Crow, straighten one leg back in the air to One Legged Crow Pose. Repeat opposite side.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute.

To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, back into a squat.

Crow and Crane Pose boost your confidence and lift your self esteem. They are good for Kidney Health and strengthen the wrists, arms and abs. Toned arms and fab abs, who could ask for more?!

See how to do Crow Pose using props: (5:19)

Video courtesy of Aim True Yoga with Kathryn Budig on YouTube, Gaiam Channel.

Images courtesy of,, and

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