Mastering Crane Pose: Advanced Tips and Techniques for Yogis

Young attractive yogi woman practicing yoga's Bakasana pose also known as Crane Pose.

Article At A Glance

Crane Pose (Bakasana) is a challenging arm balance that requires strength, balance, and focus. By exploring the meaning of the name, the anatomy of the pose, common problems practitioners face, and advanced techniques for mastering the pose, you can deepen your practice and embody the qualities of grace, strength, and stability. As always, be patient and gentle with yourself as you explore this challenging pose, and remember to listen to your body and honor your limits.

 

Looking for a new challenge to add to your yoga practice? Try these advanced techniques for one of yoga’s great arm-balancing poses, Crane Pose (Bakasana).

Crane Pose is a challenging arm balance that requires strength, balance, and focus. In this article, we will explore the meaning of the name Bakasana, the anatomy of the pose, common problems practitioners face, and advanced techniques for mastering Crane Pose.

The Meaning of Bakasana

Concept of the meaning behind Yoga's Crane Pose featuring Artistic portrait of young woman posing and two cranes flying up. The name Bakasana comes from the Sanskrit words baka, meaning crane, and asana, meaning pose. In Hindu mythology, the crane is a symbol of longevity, prosperity, good luck, and good health. Practicing Crane Pose is said to help us embody these qualities both physically and mentally.

Crane Pose is often confused with Crow Pose (Kakasana), another yoga arm balance very similar to Crane Pose. But while they may look like the same yoga pose, there are some key differences between them.

Crow Pose is considered to be a foundational pose for arm balances, and it is often taught before Crane Pose. In Crow Pose, the arms are bent, and the knees are resting on the back of the upper arms, near the armpits. The gaze is forward, and the core is engaged to lift the hips up and away from the ground.

Crane Pose, on the other hand, is a more challenging variation of Crow Pose. In Crane Pose, the arms are straight, and the knees are resting higher up on the upper arms than in Crow Pose, closer to the armpits. The gaze is forward, and the core is engaged to lift the hips up and away from the ground, creating a sense of lightness and lift in the pose.

Benefits of Crane Pose

Yoga, sport, training and lifestyle concept - Young blonde woman in white sportswear practicing Crane Pose also known as Bakasana.

Practicing Crane Pose can offer a variety of physical and mental benefits. Here are some of the ways this pose can benefit your body and mind:

  1. Strengthens the arms, shoulders, and core muscles
  2. Improves balance and focus
  3. Stimulates the digestive system
  4. Enhances mental clarity and concentration

4 Differences Between Crow Pose and Crane Pose

Young attractive woman practicing yoga's Crow Pose or Kakasana at home. Crow Pose is a good pose to master before practicing Yoga's Crane Pose.

  1. Arm position: In Crow Pose, the arms are bent, while in Crane Pose, the arms are straight.
  2. Knee position: In Crow Pose, the knees rest lower on the upper arms, while in Crane Pose, the knees rest higher up on the upper arms, closer to the armpits.
  3. Core engagement: Both poses require the engagement of the core muscles, but in Crane Pose, the engagement is more intense as the legs are lifted higher off the ground.
  4. Level of difficulty: Crane Pose is considered to be a more challenging variation of Crow Pose, as it requires more strength, balance, and focus to perform.

Anatomy of Crane Pose

Crane Pose requires strength in the arms, shoulders, and core. To perform the pose, you will engage your triceps, deltoids, and pectoralis major to lift yourself off the ground. Additionally, you will use your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis, to stabilize your body.

One of the unique aspects of Crane Pose is its effect on the pelvic floor muscles and mula bandha. Mula bandha, or the root lock, is a technique in yoga that involves engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor to create stability and energy flow in the body. In Crane Pose, you will engage your pelvic floor muscles to lift your hips up and forward, creating a sense of lightness and lift in the pose.

Common Challenges in Practicing Crane Pose or Bakasana in Yoga

If you are new to yoga’s Crane Pose, you may struggle with balancing on your hands and keeping your core engaged. Here are some common problems practitioners face and tips for addressing them:

  1. Wrist pain: It’s not uncommon for yoga practitioners to experience wrist pain in Crane Pose. It may be helpful to place yoga blocks under your hands, at their lowest level, to reduce the pressure on your wrists. You can also practice strengthening your wrists with exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.
  2. Falling forward: If you find yourself falling forward in Crane Pose, focus on engaging your core muscles and lifting your hips up and forward. You can also practice the pose against a wall, using the wall for support until you feel comfortable balancing on your own. If you practice in the middle of the room, place a “crash pad,” such as a thickly folded blanket, on the floor directly in front of you.

    Young attractive woman practicing yoga's Plank Pose or Phalakasana to help develop the core strength necessary to practice the feature pose, Yoga's Crane Pose.
  3. Lack of strength: If you don’t yet have the strength to lift yourself off the ground in Crane Pose, practice strengthening your arms and core with yoga poses like Plank Pose (Phalakasana). You can also enter Bakasana by starting with your feet elevated on a yoga block at its lowest height. That may give you the lift you need to move more easily into Bakasana.

Advanced Techniques for Mastering Bakasana

Once you have mastered the basics of Crane Pose, you can explore more advanced variations and techniques. Here are some tips for taking your practice to the next level:

Image features Flying Crane Pose also known as Eka Pada Bakasana. Which is a challenging pose related to Yoga's Crane Pose or Bakasana,

  1. Straight arms: Once you are comfortable balancing in Crow Pose, work on straightening your arms to move from Crow Pose to a full Crane Pose. This will require more strength and balance but will also create a more profound sense of extension and lift in the pose. 
  2. Practice transitioning between Kakasana and Bakasana: If you are comfortable with Crow Pose, you can practice transitioning from Crow Pose to Crane Pose. To do this, begin in Crow Pose. Then shift your weight forward onto your hands and lift your hips up and forward into Crane Pose.
  3. Bakasana with straight legs: For a more advanced variation, try lifting one leg off your arm while in Crane Pose, then leaning forward while extending that leg straight out behind you. 

Also known as One-Legged Crane (Eka Pada Bakasana) or Flying Crow Pose (shown above), this challenging variation of Crane Pose requires even more strength and balance. Still, it will also create a deeper sense of extension and challenge in the pose.

Deepen Your Practice with Crane Pose

Crane Pose is a challenging arm balance that requires strength, balance, and focus. By exploring the meaning of the name, the anatomy of the pose, common problems practitioners face, and advanced techniques for mastering the pose, you can deepen your practice and embody the qualities of grace, strength, and stability. As always, be patient and gentle with yourself as you explore this challenging pose, and remember to listen to your body and honor your limits.

 

Charlotte Bell writer

Charlotte Bell began practicing yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. She was certified by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1989 following a trip to Pune. In 1986, she began practicing Insight Meditation with her mentors Pujari and Abhilasha Keays. Her asana classes blend mindfulness with physical movement. Charlotte writes a column for Catalyst Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. She is the author of two books: Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life, and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. She also edits Hugger Mugger Yoga Products’ blog and is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, she plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and the folk sextet Red Rock Rondo whose 2010 PBS music special won two Emmys.

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