Arm balances like bakasana or crow pose are challenging but fun. They help strengthen your wrists, arms, and shoulders, challenge your core muscles, and improve balance and focus. If you’ve already explored bakasana and are looking to try something new, here are some other crow pose variations that you can do.
1. Baby Crow
Don’t be fooled by this small, compact shape. Baby crow really challenges your shoulder stability and forearm strength.
From malasana, lower your forearms down onto the mat. Make sure they are firmly planted down, as these will help engage your shoulders and upper back. Bring your knees behind the upper arms and lift up your heels.
Start to lean your upper body forward, hugging your triceps and shoulders in. At first, it may feel like you are falling over—this is normal. Use your arm strength to stabilize and keep balanced. Just like crow, round your spine.
Allow your toes to come off the floor. Keep your gaze focused at the top edge of your mat. Stay here for a few breaths, then shift the weight back and return the feet back onto the mat.
2. Side Crow
Also known as parsva bakasana, side crow entails both flexion and rotation in the spine. Warming up with a few twists will surely prepare your body for this posture.
In utkatasana or chair pose, take your hands in prayer in front of your chest. Twist your upper body tot the right side, feeling your ribcage and shoulders rotate. Sit the hips low until you come down onto your heels.
Take your hands in front of your right outer hip and knee. Firm up the palms onto the mat. Start to lean the upper body forward, until your right outer hip comes onto your right upper arm.
Your upper arm will serve as a shelf. Learn forward until you have a 90-degree bend in your arms. Lift both feet off the mat. Breathe, and focus.
Stay here for a few breaths, then lower back down to the mat. Don’t forget to perform the arm balance on the next side.
If you’re ready to really take your arm balance practice up a notch, try crane. Do not, however, that it requires some familiarity and comfort with crow pose. It can also be quite heavy on the wrists.
From malasana, place your hands down in front of you. Spread the fingers, ensuring that you have a firm foundation.
Lift the hips up, and perch high onto your toes. Stack your knees on top of your upper arms.
Round the spine and zip up the lower belly to really engage the core. Lean the upper body forward. Lift up the heels of your feet off the mat, and clip them closely towards your buttocks.
Once you’ve achieved lift off, stay calm and breathe. Remember that Crane should be eased into. Keep your gaze focused and your core engaged.
Start to straighten your arms as much as you can, keeping a small microbend in your elbows to prevent hyperextension. Stay here for a few breaths, then slowly tip back to your feet and release the pose.
Have fun with these crow pose variations, but don’t forget to properly warm up your body before you try them out—drills and exercises for your arms, shoulders, and core are essential before any arm balance.