There is some debate over what we are going to call this pose. So, I’ll clear that immediately. Kakasana (crow) is an arm balance with bent arms. Bakasnaa (crane) is an arm balance with straight arms. If you disagree, cool! But for the purpose of this article, let’s just use those for reference.
I like to think of crow pose as a gateway pose because it’s the first arm balance most people learn and really can do. After that, yoga gets way more fun. All of the sudden, your asana options explodes open and you, yes you crow master, can now take flight. It’s a big moment in a yogis life, but it needs to be approached with caution and knowledge.
Start in a squat with hands firmly pressed on the floor. If you’re a new yogi, put a block under your feet in your squat. Pull your knees up as close to your armpits as you can and pull your belly button back towards your spine. Now, gradually shift your weight into your arms and try to lift one foot at a time. Think about lifting up towards the ceiling and focus your gaze at the floor. Hips should be pointing straight up towards the ceiling, not sitting parallel to the shoulders.
Look at you! You’re flying!
The Yoga Instructor
I’m going to say it, and if I offend you, you can send me a strongly worded email. If you’ve been practicing vinyasa yoga continuously for a year and are injury free, you should be working with crow pose. All of those chaturanga push ups help build up the arm strength (and mimic the form), and plank has been working on your core. I hate to see students shy away from this pose forever because they are afraid of being embarrassed. If you don’t want people to see you fall (seriously though, falling is a big part of yoga), practice at home. Use the above modification with a block and put a pillow between your hands while you try to find your form. If you faceplant, just say you were going for a nap.
I do include this pose in a lot of classes because I think once you have your crow, your outlook on yoga changes. I so badly want you, dear students, to have confidence in yourself to take flight. Don’t be afraid to ask for questions and modifications for this pose.
The Orthopedic Surgeon
I can see the benefits of this pose. It’s great for strengthening the triceps, traps, and deltoids. It’s also good for the scapular musculature (muscles around the scapula of the shoulder) and erector spinae (deep muscles of the back).
Crow pose can be difficult for the shoulders, so anyone with impingement syndrome should refrain from practicing it. Also, any instability in the shoulder or elbow could cause injury in this pose as well, so it should be approached with caution.
The Physical Therapist
Crow pose needs to be practiced as safely as possible–you’re just asking for a faceplant! Anyone with balance or vestibular issues would need modifications to make this safe.
Since you’re shifting the extra weight of the legs onto the hands, this is a good, deep stretch for the wrist flexors. It’s good for people who work at a desk or suffer from recurrent carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s also excellent for the triceps and requires a great deal of strength and balance from the fingers to the shoulders to the core.
- Tricep, trapezius, and deltoid strength
- Core strength
- Stretching the wrists
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Weak or injured shoulders and elbows
- Balance or vestibular issues
- Impingement syndrome
Photo – shutterstock.com
Lauren Black is a 200 RYT yoga instructor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She teaches a form focused vinyasa/hatha practice. For the last five years since she went through her teacher training, she has tried to learn more about yoga from professionals in other paths. She also works as a copywriter for an advertising agency. http://laurenbyoga.tumblr.com | https://www.facebook.com/laurennp1 | Instagram@LaurenPBlack