How to do Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)
Since this posture is called Side Crow, it would be fair to assume that it depends upon a mastery of Crow Pose. But that’s not entirely the case. Many people tackle Crow as their first arm balance, but some do find that Side Crow actually comes easier. Whichever you prefer, both poses help you get comfortable getting your feet off the floor and balancing on your hands by harnessing your core strength. Let’s go through it step by step and you’ll see what we mean.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
1. On an exhalation, twist your torso to the left so that your chest is turned toward the left side of the room.
2. Take your right elbow to the outside of your left knee, deepening the bend in your knees if necessary.
3. Keep your hands in Anjali mudra. Press the palms together so that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.
4. Take a few breaths here, deepening your twist on your exhalations.
Place your hands on the floor
1. Release the mudra but keep your deep twist as you bring both palms flat to the floor on the outside of your left foot.
2. Bend your knees to a squatting position, coming onto the balls of your feet.
Ok, from here we have options: two arms or one. (Don’t worry, you’ll still have both hands on the floor; it’s just a matter of where you place your hips.) If you are new to arm balancing, start with the two-arm version.
Supported by Two Arms
1. Bend your elbows straight back to come towards a Chaturanga arm position. Just as in Chaturanga, you don’t want to let your shoulders dip below your elbows. Engage your core to maintain a right angle between your upper and lower arms.
2. As you do this, your left elbow comes under your left hip and your right elbow comes under your left knee. These are your points of support.
3. Keep bringing your body weight forward into your hands.
4. Eventually your weight comes so far forward that your feet lift away from the floor.
5. Once they do, keep your feet active and toes engaged.
Supported by One Arm
1. If the version above starts to feel comfortable, try the one-arm version.
2. You’ll need a deeper twist because you have to center your body over your right arm only instead of distributing your weight onto two arms.
3. In your squat, position your right elbow midway between your left hip and knee. Take your left hand out beyond your left hip.
4. When you come forward, all your weight goes onto your right arm. Your left arm stabilises you but doesn’t bear your weight.
5. Float the feet away from the floor.
Extend your legs
With either arm variation, there are several ways to extend your legs.
1. Take both legs straight out to the right side with hips stacked and feet flexed.
2. Take the left leg straight out to the right side (same position as above). Move the right leg so that it points toward the back of your mat. This is Eka Pada Koundinyasana I.
Side Crow’s Chaturanga arm position is the basis for many other arm balances, including Grasshopper, Eka Pada Koundinyasana I and II, and Astvakrasana, so learning how to do it opens the door to a lot of new possibilities.