Crow Pose vs. Crane Pose: What Is The Difference?

Crane pose and crow pose are two types of arm balances in yoga practices. While you might hear them referred to as Bakasana, which translates to “crane pose,” they’re not the same thing. Crane pose is an advancement of crow pose, with straighter arms as opposed to bent elbows. 

Aside from the one minor difference, the two poses are nearly the same thing. This article reviews each pose plus a few tips and tricks, so continue reading to learn more! 

Crow Pose

Also knowns as Kakasana, crow pose is an arm balancing position. Although this pose is considered an entry level pose, it is somewhat advanced compared to other poses in yoga. You have to engage muscles throughout your core and upper body to hold your body weight in the position.

In this pose, you can rest your knees on your elbows for extra support, but this doesn’t make the pose a breeze. You’ll need good wrist flexion and hip mobility, as well as shoulder and abdominal strength.  

What Muscles Does The Crow Pose Work?

Crow pose targets muscles throughout your core and upper body. You spend your time in the pose balancing on your arms, knees tucked in to rest on your elbows, which are slightly bent. This targets muscles in your core, arms, wrists, and upper back as you stabilize in the position. 

It doesn’t involve much lower body strength, although hip flexibility is necessary to achieve the proper form. 

Crane Pose

Crane pose, also known as by its sanskrit word Bakasana, is an advanced arm balance. It’s a step up from crow pose, but involves many of the same muscle groups. Instead of keeping your arms bent, like in a crow pose, you extend your elbows straighter, with only a slight bend in the elbows. 

Think of a crane – it has longer legs than the crow, so you hold your body up higher from the ground. This makes the pose slightly more challenging, as you can’t rest your knees on your elbows. Like crow pose, crane pose requires ample wrist flexion, hip mobility, shoulder and arm strength, and core strength. 

What Muscles Does The Crane Pose Work?

Crane pose works many of the same muscles as crow pose. As you hold the pose, you’ll begin to feel the burn in your arms, shoulders, and core, although you might feel the movement in your core first, as your core is the main supporter here. 

What Is The Difference?

The only difference between crane and crow poses is how you hold your elbows. In a crane pose, you keep your elbows straight. On the flip side, you keep your elbows bent in a crow pose. Maintaining bent elbows gives your knees a place to rest, so the crow pose is often considered the base level of this arm balance. 

In a straight-armed crane pose, you can’t easily rest your knees on your elbows, so more strength is required to suspend your body weight. Because of this, crane pose is often viewed as the advanced version of crow pose. 

Benefits Of Crow And Crane Poses

  • Strengthens upper body
  • Improves balance
  • Strengthens stabilizers
  • Builds confidence to progress to more difficult poses
  • Improves proprioceptors (ability to detect where you are in space)

Tips To Successfully Hold Crow And Crane Pose

Crow and crane poses can be intimidating, especially for beginners. After all, if you fall, your face will go straight to the floor. However, while these poses can seem daunting, you can build your strength and flexibility to handle them without a hitch. Here are a few tips to help you successfully hold these poses:

Yoga Pose

Spread Your Fingers

Since your entire weight is balanced in your hands, you need to keep your fingers wide. This will make it easier to balance, as your fingers will cover more surface area, allowing you to distribute your weight easier. So, keep your fingers spread apart to cover more ground as you hold the pose. 

Keep Your Head Neutral

While you don’t want to let your head fall towards your hands, avoid looking up. When you let your head fall to your hands, this can cause you to lose your balance, as it redistributes the weight of your head. 

On the other hand, if you look up in front of you, you might begin to feel the strain in your neck. So, it’s essential to find a happy medium between the two. Don’t let your head fall, but don’t strain your neck. Instead, keep your gaze forward and down, as this will keep your neck in a more neutral and comfortable position. 

Position A Blanket In Front Of You

If you’re new to crow and crane poses, you might want to place a blanket in front of you near your head. As your body tries to maintain the posture, you might lose your balance and fall forward. The landing might be quite painful if you don’t have a blanket in front of you. 

So, in your initial practicing stages, position a blanket in front of you to protect your head, neck, and shoulders. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Modify

Crane and crow poses are advanced yoga poses, so if you’re just starting, you might not be able to do either. This is okay – you can build your strength as you go, slowly increasing in intensity until you feel comfortable enough to handle crane pose. 

To modify the pose, place a yoga block underneath your toes. Instead of shifting your entire weight into your hands, leave some weight distributed in each foot. This will relieve stress on the supporting muscles, allowing you to hold the pose for longer. 

When you’re ready, remove the block and build your strength with crow pose. After you master crow pose, straighten your elbows into crane pose. 

Don’t Forget To Breathe

In challenging poses, we often forget to breathe. Crane and crow poses aren’t particularly easy for most folks, so they may forget to breathe through the motion. This can make you feel lightheaded, so remember to breathe deeply through the entire pose. If you feel yourself holding your breath, remind yourself to breathe or drop out of the pose to breathe easily. 

Strengthen Supporting Areas

Crow and crane poses are tricky, more advanced poses. Many beginners will struggle to hold these poses, as they require strength in various areas throughout your body. So, if you’re new to these poses, work on strengthening areas that support the pose. 

Work on wrist flexibility by working through the tabletop stretch. Keep your palms fully grounded in the tabletop pose, then lean forward about three inches. If you can keep your entire palm on the ground, your wrists are flexible enough to handle crow and crane poses. 

In addition, these poses require immense core and shoulder strength. Hold plank and boat poses for 30 seconds to a minute to improve your core strength. Ensure you maintain good form, which will help strengthen your core safely. 

To improve shoulder strength, incorporate chaturanga pushups into your routine. Keep your knees or toes planted into the ground with your palms directly underneath your shoulders. Lower your body into a pushup, keeping your elbows close to your sides (this is also called a tricep pushup). Push away from the ground to straighten back into the plank. 

In crane and crow poses, you need hip flexibility. If your hip flexibility is subpar, work on it with various stretches. For example, try the kneeling hip flexor stretch. Position your body in a runner’s lunge, then lower your back knee to the ground. 

Place your hands on your forward thigh or hips, then gently push your hips forward. You should feel the stretch through your hip flexor of the lower leg, which is on the inside of your hip. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long Does It Take To Master Crow and Crane Poses?

While crow and crane poses are only the tip of the iceberg in arm-balancing poses, they’re not easy. The time it’ll take for you to learn to master these poses hinges on you. Some folks will be able to hold the arm balance right off the bat, while others might take months to years to master the pose. 

As long as you prioritize your strength and flexibility, especially in areas associated with these poses, you can expect to achieve the pose in three to twelve months.