Side Crow – Parsva Bakasana – is one of those poses that feels incredibly awkward at first, but don’t worry, with a bit of perseverance you’ll be flying in no time!
Although you can just as easily get into this pose from a squatting position, I find it’s easiest to start from Parivrtta Utkatasana because many of the alignment principles you’ll be working with in Parsva Bakasana are at play here too. Mastering Parivrtta Utkatasana will help you set up for a stronger, more stable Parsva Bakasana.
How to do Side Crow:
- Start in Tadasana.
- Inhale, sweep your arms to the sky. Exhale, sit into Utkatasana with your feet together. Inhale, bring your hands to prayer. Exhale, take your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh and press the triceps and thigh into one another.
- Pause here and push your hands together. Feel how the muscles of your upper body (chest, back, arms and hands) engage. Remember this feeling when your in Parsva Bakasana, you’ll need to engage the muscles of your upper body strongly to stay up. You should also notice that your core switches on (this will also be important for the full expression of this pose).
- Once you’re stable, squat down. Your heels will probably lift off the floor and this is fine. Keep your knees together pointing to 12 o’clock and, maintaining the twist through your waist place your palms on the floor, shoulder-width apart, pointing to 3 o’clock.
- Remember the upper body strength you experienced when you pressed your palms together in Parivrtta Utkatasana? Well, tap into that again here; this time pressing your hands and arms firmly into the floor.
- Maintain a strong point of contact between your right thigh and left triceps as your thigh is about to become the shelf on top of which your entire body will rest. Stack your body weight directly on top of this shelf as this makes balancing easier.
- Use your arms just as you would in Chaturanga. As you bend them, draw your elbows back, shift your gaze forward and lift your hips skyward.
- Inhale, reach your chest forward. Exhale, lower your chest slightly and tilt your hips high.
- You might experiment with taking one foot off the floor at a time, or if you’re feeling brave take both feet off the floor at once and soar (toes together)!
Hold this for as long as you can. You’ll build a bit more strength each time you come into the pose, and don’t forget to do the other side 😉
Benefits of Side Crow:
Aside from the confidence you’ll build when you realize you’re strong enough to do this, benefits of side crow include the strength of the upper body, toning the spine and belly and improving your sense of balance. As this is a twisting pose you’ll help the body detoxify and by massaging the abdominal organs you will improve your digestion.
If you’re worried about making an ignoble face plant just pop a block, blanket or bolster under your forehead. If you do fall it will make your landing softer but you can also start with your head resting on it which sometimes helps while you’re getting used to lifting your feet off the floor.
- Core work
- Marichayasana I
- Parsva Utkatasana
Follow up poses:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana