Bakasana (Crane pose), and the similar Kakasana (Crow pose) are balancing asanas in hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise. In all variations, these are arm balancing poses in which hands are planted on the floor, shins rest upon upper arms, and feet lift up. The poses are often confused, but traditionally Kakasana has arms bent, Bakasana (the crane being the taller bird with longer legs) has the arms straight.
Etymology and origins
While different yoga lineages use one name or another for the asanas, Dharma Mittra makes a distinction, citing Kakasana as being with arms bent (like the shorter legs of a crow) and Bakasana with arms straight (like the longer legs of a crane). B. K. S. Iyengar's 1966 Light on Yoga describes only Bakasana, with straight arms. In Sivananda Yoga, Swami Vishnudevananda's 1960 Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga describes only Kakasana, with bent arms. However, practitioners in the west often mistranslate the Sanskrit "Bakasana" as "Crow Pose".
In his 1969 book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga uses the name Bakasana for a different pose entirely, standing on one leg, the body angled down with the other leg straight out in line with the body, the arms straight and grasping the standing big toe.
These asanas are arm balances. According to B.K.S. Iyengar there are two techniques for entering them. The simple method is by pushing up from a crouching position. The advanced method is to drop down from Shirshasana (yoga headstand).
Asymmetric variations include:
- Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) in which one thigh rests on the opposite upper arm and the other leg is stacked on top of the first
- Eka Pada Bakasana/Kakasana (One-Legged Crane/Crow Pose respectively) in which one leg remains in Bakasana while the other extends straight back.
Crane/Crow is often followed by Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) or Salamba Sirsasana II (Supported Head Stand, Second version). Some practitioners jump in and out of Crane/Crow via Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose).
Twentieth century advocates of some schools of yoga, such as B. K. S. Iyengar, made claims for the effects of yoga on specific organs, without adducing any evidence. Iyengar claimed that this pose "strengthens the arms and abdominal organs since the latter are contracted."
- Bhujapidasana – a similar hand-balancing pose, with the feet crossed in front of the body
- Tittibhasana - a hand-balancing pose with the feet stretched straight out in front
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