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Crow pose, also known as bakasana or crane pose, is an arm-balance position in yoga. Done correctly, it can help strengthen the core and triceps, and increase hip flexibility. Crow pose may look difficult at first, but with a little practice it can be achieved even by yoga beginners.
To move into crow pose, it is easiest to start in a deep squat, with feet a few inches apart. Placing hands on the floor in front of the body, bend the arms and widen the thighs, so that the inner thighs are squeezing against the upper arms or resting on top of the triceps. From this position, shift weight forward slowly, shifting the weight from the feet into the upper arms. As the body leans forward, the head should be lifted; crow pose does not put any weight on the head.
From this point, crow pose can be modified to suit the skills of the practitioner. Beginners can practice taking one foot off the floor, letting the weight of the leg rest on the arm. The feet can then be shifted, letting the beginner test out the feeling of balance on each side. By shifting the feet faster, a beginner can work toward being able to take both feet off the ground. The one foot method is sometimes known as “baby crow” pose.
For a more advanced version, as the body leans forward, both feet come off the floor. This is the traditional variation of crow pose, relying on arm and core strength and flexibility. When balancing on the arms, focus turns to careful, measured breathing as the practitioner holds the pose. It's not uncommon to fall over a few times while establishing crow pose, but once properly balanced, it can be held for quite a while.
Further advanced practitioners may be able to move onto more difficult variations of crow pose once the traditional form is mastered. For an advanced crow, knees are placed high up on the triceps to begin, rather than close to the elbows as in baby or traditional crow. Hips are also held well above the shoulders, rather than just slightly above them as in the simpler version. After feet are lifted off the floor, the arms are slowly straightened, so that knees balance near the armpits. This variation takes considerable practice and arm strength to manage, and some yoga experts do not recommend advanced crow pose to those with neck injuries, pregnant women, or new practitioners.