Prepare to Fly With This Step-by-Step Side Crow Photo Tutorial

Tonya Wetzel

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Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana) is a deep twisting arm balance that relies on a strong core and solid Chaturanga foundation.

Many yogis find Side Crow more accessible than Crow Pose (Bakasana) since the legs move together, providing for a bit more strength and stability. There are several ways to approach Side Crow and lots of fun variations to add once you’ve mastered your balance, making it a great arm balance to learn and play with.

Before you try Side Crow, make sure that you have properly warmed up. Start your practice with:

  • Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
  • Three to five rounds of Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B)
  • Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  • Crescent Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
  • Boat Pose (Navasana)
    •  
      When you’re warm and ready, jump into the Parsva Bakasana tutorial below!

      Need help with your foundation? Here are 5 Tips to Practice Chaturanga Correctly
       
       

      Ready to Fly? Follow These 6 Steps to Practice Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana):

       

      1. Start in Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

      Step1

      • From Mountain Pose (Tadasana) bend your knees and sit back like you are sitting into a chair
      • Sweep your arms up overhead leaving them shoulder-width apart
      • Rotate the palms of your hands to face each other to help keep your shoulders integrated along your back
      • Engage your core by pulling your navel toward your spine and lift through your pelvic floor
      • Hug your legs together
      • Broaden across your collarbones to help keep your chest lifted
      • Point your tailbone toward the ground – think grandma booty here, not bikini booty

       
      Make sure you start from a solid foundation. Read: How to Actually Practice Mountain Pose – There’s More Technique Than You Think
       

       
       

      2. Add a Twist (Parivrtta Utkatasana)

      Step2

      • Bring the palms of your hands together at heart center
      • Inhale and lengthen your spine
      • Exhale and twist to your right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right leg just above your knee
      • Press your hands firmly together and rotate your ribs up toward the ceiling to deepen the twist
      • Concentrate the twist along your spine
      • Take a couple of breaths here, finding a bit more rotation with each exhale

       

      3. Lower Your Hips

      Step 3

      • Bring your gaze down to the mat
      • Maintain the deep twist and lower your hips toward the ground
      • Lift your heels
      • Squeeze your legs tightly together and hover your bum just above your ankles
      • Press the back of your left arm into your right thigh

       

      4. Plant Your Hands

      Step 4

      • Plant your hands on the mat, fingertips in line and shoulder-width apart
      • Adjust your twist to bring your right thigh close to your left armpit
      • Keep most of your weight in your feet at this point while you build a solid foundation with your arms

       

      5. Create a Shelf With Your Arms

      Step 5

      • Bend your arms tucking your elbows in toward your chest, similar to Chaturanga
      • Spread your fingers wide and grip the mat with your fingertips
      • Move your gaze (drishti) to the mat just in front of your fingertips
      • Lift your hips and shift your weight forward and slightly to the right
      • Keep contact between your left arm and right thigh
      • You can place your right hip on the back of your right arm for a bit more stability while learning this pose
      • As you lean forward, your weight will naturally start to shift from your feet into your hands
      •  

        6. Let’s Fly!

        Step 6

        • Float your feet off the floor bringing your heels in toward your bum
        • Continue lifting your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor
        • Flex or floint (half flex/half point) your feet once they leave the ground
        • Keep your knees stacked on top of each other
        • Press firmly into the mat and lift through your core to help keep your shoulders in line with your elbows
        • Bring your gaze slightly forward

         
        Give some other arm balances a try too with this Arm Balance Tutorial: Learn Crow Pose and Hurdler’s Pose (Free Class)
         
         

        Want to Kick It Up a Notch? Try These 4 Steps for a More Challenging Entrance Into Side Crow:

        Another way to access this pose is from Half Lord of the Fishes. This variation helps to deepen the twist which many yogi’s find helpful, but it can create a bit of a tangle with the legs. Nevertheless, it’s a fun challenge to try!
         

        1. Start in Half Lord of the Fishes

        Variation Step 1

        • Take a seat and extend your legs keeping a small bend in your knees
        • Slide your left leg under your right, bringing your left foot to the outside your right hip
        • Let your left thigh rest on the ground
        • Step your right foot across your left leg, placing your foot flat on the ground outside your left hip
        • Point your right knee up toward the ceiling
        • Place your right hand on the ground behind your right hip
        • Inhale and lengthen through your spine lifting your left arm toward the ceiling
        • Exhale and twist to the right bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee
        • Stay here for a few breaths, lengthening your spine with your inhales and deepening your twist with your exhales

         

         
         

        2. Plant Your Hands

        Variation Step 2

        • Bring your head to a neutral position
        • Keep the deep twist in your spine
        • Lift your hips and lean forward to place your hands on the ground outside your left leg, fingertips in line and shoulder-width apart
        • Adjust your twist to bring your right thigh close to your left armpit
        • You will be kneeling on your left knee now, while leaning forward

         

        3. Create a Shelf With Your Arms

        Variation Step 3

        • Bend your arms tucking your elbows in toward your chest, similar to Chaturanga
        • Spread your fingers wide and grip the mat with your fingertips
        • Move your gaze to the mat just in front of your fingertips
        • Lift your hips and shift your weight forward and slightly to the right
        • Keep contact between your left arm and right thigh
        • You can place your right hip on the back of your right arm for a bit more stability while learning this pose
        • As you lean forward your weight will naturally start to shift from your feet into your hands
        •  

          4. Let’s Fly!

          Variation Step 4

          • As you lean further forward, float your right foot and left leg off the floor
          • Uncross your legs and slide your left leg up toward your right, stacking your knees on top of each other
          • Continue lifting your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor
          • Flex or floint (half flex/half point) your feet once they leave the ground
          • Keep your knees stacked on top of each other
          • Press firmly into the mat and lift through your core to help keep your shoulders in line with your elbows
          • Bring your gaze slightly forward

           
           

          Important Final Tips and Variations for Side Crow:

          When you’re ready to come out of Parsva Bakasana, lower your feet down to the mat, shift your weight back into your feet, and lift your arms off the floor. Take a standing forward fold for a few breaths to release before trying the other side.

          If you need a little support along your journey to Side Crow, you can stack two yoga blocks and place them under your shoulders. You can also work close to a wall and walk your toes up the wall using it as a bit of a kickstand to help you find balance.

          Once you’ve mastered Side Crow there are several fun variations to try to keep challenging yourself. You can extend both legs straight keeping your knees and ankles stacked, straighten and split your legs for Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, or float into Fallen Angel.

          Remember to have fun with the pose and enjoy any moments you fly along the way, whether it’s for half a second, or half a minute!

          Want to fly more? Learn How to Master Crow Pose With This Step-By-Step Yoga Tutorial

















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