Parsva Bakasana: Side Crow Pose
Parsva bakasana (PARSH-vah bahk-AHS-anna) is an arm balancing posture requiring a deep twist in the torso. 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.
- 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.
- High-to-mid plank | Chaturanga dandasana
- Chair pose | Utkatasana
- Revolved chair pose | Parivrtta utkatasana
- Pose of the sage Marchi | Marichyasana I
- Hurdler pose | Eka pada koundinyasana II
- Noose pose | Pasasana
- Parsva = side
- Baka = crane
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens and tones the arms and shoulders
- Engages and strengthens the core.
- Strengthens the hands and wrists
- Focuses mind and energy
- Boosts confidence
Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana (not-ah-raj-AHS-anna) is a physically challenging, beautiful pose that requires flexibility in the spine, legs, and hips. To practice the pose, use a thoughtful sequence filled with plenty of preparatory poses in order to make sure your body – and mind – are adequately prepared. Regular practice will help develop strong mental fortitude and determined concentration.
Philosophy + Origin
A physical embodiment of King Nataraja, a form of the lord Shiva, lord of the dance pose (also referred to as king dancer pose) is a tribute to this powerful god of destruction. Embracing destruction and even death as part of the cycle of change and growth, this pose is a helpful reminder that no good can exist without evil, no birth without death.
In most depictions of King Nataraja, he is standing on one leg (hence the shape of the pose), gazing over the head of a small dwarf, whose presence represents ignorance. In this way, lord of the dance pose encourages our consciousness to elevate above ignorance, above the common thoughts and misunderstandings that cloud our view. The balance that comes from the pose awakens our understanding that clarity brings steadiness.