Side Crow/Side Crane Pose
Sanskrit: Parsva Bakasana
Photo of Maggie Anderson taken by Donald Anderson IV
Side Crow (or more advanced is called the Side Crane) is a great pose for strengthening the arms and the core. This pose challenges your balance and you want to be sure you gaze in the direction you are going (to the side). You might not get right into this pose on your first shot. I know I didn’t. It took a few years of practicing till I could have the abs and arm strength as well as the determined focus on my mind and body awareness for the supreme balance that comes with working in Side Crow Pose. It took hearing a different way of coming into this pose in order for my arms to really be in the right position for my body and then amazingly, my perspective changed and I came into this pose with more grace and ease. It’s still a challenging pose for me but one I look forward to practicing more often in my dedicated practice. It’s all about changing your perspective sometimes. Yet another life lesson. This pose is fantastic for strengthening the arms and wrists, toning the belly and spine as well as improving balance.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
With feet and knees together, bend down. Take your hands to the outside of your right thigh. Here you begin a twisting action in your torso to aim to the right where you will be flowing; softening the belly. Try to maintain a straight spine. First focus on your elbows. Take one elbow to the outside of your right knee and the other elbow to the outside of your hip. Even press them into your knee and hip so you are secure with position. Then leaning over, while maintaining elbow contact, press hands into the floor, fingers wide and strong. Try not to change hand positions and elbows into knee and hips throughout the pose. Hands will be shoulder distance apart. Take your gaze/drishti to the right where you will be going. Most of the weight is still in the feet.
Begin weight transference. Spine is straight and elongated. Shift your weight forward a little or a lot. Slow on your first attempts. Get used to the weight and strength in your shoulders; still keeping your feet touching the ground at this point. Then when you feel ready as you shift forward, gazing forward, neck long begin to lift one or both feet off the ground. Aiming to bring the middle of your abdomen above and between your hands. It’s balance, geometry, strengthening the arms and wrists a lot.
Advanced: Your left arm may remain slightly bent, but a more advanced version for Side Crane is to straighten it as much as you can without allowing your legs to slide down. Straighten your right arm completely. As you lift your right shoulder, twist your spine further. Lift your chest and head, and look forward. Breathe evenly and naturally.
Hold the pose for 20 seconds or longer, then lower your feet back to the floor with an exhale. Repeat it on the other side for the same length of time.
When not to do this pose or to modify / Contraindications:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, any wrist issues or back injuries will require modification in those pose. Coming into this with proper alignment and slowing and if there is any pain do not attempt this pose. Instead work on Chaturanga and Crow as alternate poses.
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