Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana)
Side crow pose was my first arm balance pose. I first learned the “easy” version and honestly didn’t know there was another version for many years. I was pretty content with the version of side crow I had already learned and wasn’t much interested in learning another version. But I began seeing other yogis linking arm balances together using parsva bakasana and eka pada koundinyasa I as transition poses and my curiosity eventually piqued. I now teach side crow pose with two options depending on the students in class.
Alignment Tips For Teaching Side Crow or Parsva Bakasana
- From revolved chair pose, sit hips onto heels and bring hands to side of the mat
- Place hands shoulder width distance and spread the fingers wide
- Engage hasta bandha– fingertips press down into the mat, index finger and thumb press down into mat and lift through the arch of the hand
- Think “chaturanga arms” as the elbows bend and bring the outside of the thigh closest to the arms on to the tricep of the front arm.
- If possible, keep the hips lifted off of the back arm. This option will be more challenging, but it’s the correct posture. If side crow pose is new to you try the posture with the back hip on the back arm.
- Gaze forward and lift your feet up off the ground
- Find your balance here and breathe
- If the posture feels steady play with leg variations like transitioning into eka pada koundinyasana I.
Remember there are two options for teaching side crow.
For beginners teach side crow with the back hip on the tricep of the back arm. They will feel more steady. As the student builds strength and becomes comfortable in this version of the posture encourage them to try the second option.
For the second option of side crow the hip is lifted off of the back arm, so only the thigh is in contact with the front arm. This option is more challenging, but rewarding and empowering!
Teach Side Crow With Modifications
- Encourage students to bring their head down to a block and learn the muscular engagement to lift the legs.
- For students whose elbows wing out to the side use a yoga strap to secure their arms to shoulder width distance. Slide the loop of the strap just above their elbows.
Teach Side Crow with Props
- Use a blanket, bolster, or block underneath their face if they are worried about falling on a hard floor.
- Place a block under their face to support the head, so they can focus on lifting their feet up.
- Use a strap around their upper arms to secure the elbows above the wrists. Some students have a tendency to allow their elbows to swing out to the side or collapse inward. When the joints are stacked improperly and the weight of the body is distributed unevenly their is a risk of injury.
- Use a block in the set up. Have them start with both feet on a block as they twist to the side and set up for side crow. This way their feet will almost be in position for side crow and they can focus on the arms and upper body.
Preparatory Poses for Side Crow
- Simple Supine Twist
- Chair Pose
- Revolved Chair Pose
- Crow Pose
- Chaturanga Dandasana
- Boat Pose
- Agni Sara & Nauli
- Revolved Triangle
- Revolved Half Moon
- Revolved Lunge
- Wrist injury