Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)

Woman in Side Crow pose (Parsva Bakasana)
Ashley Corbin-Teich / Getty Images

Side crow looks pretty intimidating, but some people actually find it to be easier than crow pose. There is something about it that's a little more stable since both legs are together in a tight package and the arm position creates a natural support for the legs. Once you get the hang of this one, a lot more arm balances become available to you.

  • Type of pose: Arm balance
  • Also known as: Side Crane Pose
  • Benefits: Stretches the wrists, improves core strength, improves balance.

Instructions for Side Crow Pose

  1. Begin in a squatting position facing the front of your mat. Be on the balls of your feet with your knees together and your palms flat on the floor about a foot in front of you. Your hands should be about shoulder's distance apart from each other.
  2. Keeping the palms in place, pivot on the balls of your feet to turn your knees to face the left side of your mat.
  3. Start to lean forward, keeping your head lifted. Your head is heavy so if you let it drop it has a tendency to tip your over.
  4. Your arms begin to bend toward a 90-degree angle, making your upper arms into a little shelf (this is the arm position from chaturanga dandasana). Place your hips on your right arm shelf and your knees on your left arm shelf.
  5. Keep leaning forward until your upper arms are just about parallel to the floor and your feet want to come off the mat. Lift both feet so you come to balance just on your hands.
  6. Lean back and straighten your arms to put your feet back down.
  7. Turn your knees to the right side of your mat and try that side. Often one side is easier than the other. 

    Beginner Tips

    • Try lifting one foot up at a time to get a feel for how far forward you need to bring yourself.
    • Do not let your head drop. This will cause you to tip forward and lose balance.
    • Put a blanket or a block in front of you so you won't be afraid of hitting your head if you fall.

    Advanced Tips

    In the advanced version of the pose, you balance with both legs on just one arm. Here's how:

    1. Return to step 4, above.
    2. While squatting with your knees facing left, you need to twist a little deeper to bring your left arm to your mid-thigh (halfway between knee and hip). Your right hand comes out a bit wider to the right, past where your right hip is. 
    3. When you lean forward, both legs come onto your left arm.

    You can try the following variations in either arm configuration:

    1. Straighten both legs, keeping the feet in line with the hips. The soles of your flexed feet will face left as if you were standing on the wall at the left side of the room.
    2. Straighten both legs then move the left (upper) leg toward the back of your mat, keeping the left foot off the floor. This is eka pada koundinyasana I.
    3. Jump back to chaturanga from any version of side crow.
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