Parsva Bakasana: Side Crow Pose
Parsva bakasana (PARSH-vah bahk-AHS-anna), or side crow pose, is an arm balancing posture requiring a deep twist in the torso to achieve lift. This posture tones the belly and spine. As an arm balance, side crow gives the gift of confidence, balance, and focus.
Philosophy + Origin
Often referred to as the crow pose, bakasana actually translates to crane pose, which may conjure up much more attractive symbolism. Crow pose, or kakasana, is a slightly different pose. In kakasana, the arms are bent; in bakasana, the arms are straight. As the arms straighten into bakasana, the imagery becomes much clearer – the arms long and graceful; the body still and regal. In Asian cultures, especially Japan, the crane represents happiness, eternal youth, good fortune, and longevity. And while the crow is thought to be a harbinger of bad luck or misfortune, in many cultures it symbolizes magic, mystery, intelligence, and destiny.
- Start with your feet on a block to give your hips a lift.
- Turn your gaze in the direction of your feet to release any fear of falling forward.
- Although you can access this pose more easily by placing your outer hip on your elbow, working to get the hip to hover is a better long-term practice for your shoulders.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:
- Wrist, hip, or lower back injury.
Hidden within parsva bakasana are a few familiar poses that can help you understand what’s needed to successfully practice side crow.
Prayer twist: Parsva bakasana is a deep twist, like revolved prayer twist. The deeper the twist, the easier it will be to get the outside of your upper arm around the outside of your opposite thigh.
Chair pose: Your legs need to be in a deep squat position with both adductors strongly squeezing the inner thighs together. Imagine chair pose with a block between your inner thighs.
Chaturanga dandasana: As your arms bend toward side crow, your arms need to find the chaturanga strength and shape as you lower.
- Begin in chair pose with your hands together at heart center. On an exhale, twist to the right by hooking your left elbow as far around your right thigh as possible.
- Slowly lower your hips to your heels, so you are on your tip-toes with the twist.
- Draw your left arm down toward the floor so the armpit is as close as possible to your right thigh. Place the palm of your left hand on the floor just outside your right foot, and your right hand about your shoulder-width distance away.
- Lean your weight into your left arm and slowly shift your weight forward, into your hands.
- Play with lifting your left foot off the ground, then your right. If your feet lift off the ground, keep your feet together and flex your feet (rather than pointing them).
- Hug your belly up and in, and breathe!
- Hold up to 30-seconds or more. When ready, lower the feet down to your mat on an exhalation. Come back to stand at the top of your mat, then repeat on the other side.
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- Parsva = side
- Baka = crane
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens and tones arms and shoulders.
- Engages and strengthens the core.
- Improves balance.
- Strengthens the hands and wrists.
- Focuses mind and energy.
- Boosts confidence.
A chant for bringing the crane’s good fortune into your life, you can also dedicate the mangala mantra to someone in need of happiness and good fortune. Memorizing this mantra can take some time — practicing with a recitation can be helpful. The mantra is:
svasti prajabhyah paripalayantam nyayena margena mahim mahishah | gobrahmanebhyah shubham astu nityam lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu
MUDRA: Prana Mudra
A symbol for energy and life, practicing this mudra is said to boost longevity, increase energy, and improve health. To practice, place the tip of the thumb against the tips of the ring and pinky finger. Keep your other two fingers straight up. Practice for up to 30 minutes each day while meditating.
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