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
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.
Philosophy + Origin
Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.