A close look at Parsva Bakasana – Side Crow

As a challenging arm balance, and a step further than Bakasana variation and full Bakasana, Parsva Bakasana or Side Crow helps to further one’s confidence with balance. This helps to strengthen muscles in the belly, the spine and the arms. As great as this pose is, it’s important to prepare the body for such work with some targeted asanas beforehand.

It’s best to avoid this pose if you are currently dealing with wrist or lower back injuries.

Sinead demonstrates side crow in Happy Lane in Bristol

Read on for instructions how to safely practice this pose at home!

Preparatory Poses

Sinead demonstrates pavritta parsvakonasana

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana – Rotated Side Angle Pose (above)

A student demonstrating crow pose

Bakasana or Bakasana Variation – Crow Pose (above)

Sinead carrying out chaturanga dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana – Four Limbed Staff Pose (above)

A teacher preparing the class for reverse triangle where they will go on to put their left hand down on the outside of he right foot

Parivrtta Trikonasana – Rotated Triangle Pose (above a teacher preparing the class for reverse triangle pose, where they will go on to put their left hand down on the outside of he right foot)

Revolved fierce pose which can also be done with both hands in at the chest

Parivrtta Utkatasana – Revolved Fierce Pose (above)

You can start in two ways here; coming from Parivrtta Utkatasana you can land your hands next to your hips and move in from there. As a beginner you may prefer to follow the instructions below.

Step by Step guide

Step One

Start standing in Tadasana with the feet together, start to bend your knees until you come to a squatting position with the knees together. If your heels don’t comfortably land on the floor you can support them with a block or any other prop that helps to provide support and take out the strain.

Sinead sits on her haunches to prepare for side crow

Step Two

With an inhale lengthen your left arm upwards and have your right hand on your right knee to keep the knees central. On your exhale draw your left elbow over to the outside of your right thigh. Stay here for a few rounds of breath, with each exhale look to draw your left ribs over to your right thigh and your left armpit as close to crossing over your right thigh as possible. With each inhale you can lengthen through the spine and look to draw the right shoulder backwards.

Step Three

Sinead demonstrates placing both hands down

When you’ve rotated your torso as much as possible land your left hand on the floor close to the outside of your right foot. If your hand doesn’t easily reach the floor, you can place it on a brick or a block next to the outside of your foot. Keeping the contact of your left upper arm to the outside of your right thigh, start to lean towards the right so that you can land the right hand flat a shoulder’s width distance to the left hand. If you used a brick to prop up the left hand do the same for the right hand. Both hands are pointing directly forwards.

Step Four

Draw in strongly with your belly muscles and feel that the front of your hips start to engage at the same time as the sides of your waist. Keeping this effort in your trunk let the pelvis start to lift and the body lean to the right. The weight in your hands will increase as the weight in your toes decreases. Keep slowly shifting the weight until your toes start to lightly lift away from the floor. It’s important not to jump into this pose and instead to move slowly until there’s no more weight in the feet.

Sinead leans forward slowly until her feet slowly lift from the ground

Step Five

Let the feet raise to point at which you still feel balanced but challenged. They may raise to the point that the shoulders become parallel to the floor. Keep the feet active and the breath steady, look ahead and lift your chest forwards.

When you feel ready to come out of the pose slowy land the feet back to their original position with an exhale, bring the torso back to neutral and repeat on the other side.

Sinead demonstrates side crow

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