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
Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose
From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.
Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.
- Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
- Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
- Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
- Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.