Asana Addict Corner – Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)

Birds undoubtedly capture human fascination for their remarkable gift of flight. In hopes of feeling the freedom of flying for ourselves, our human race has gotten pretty inventive in different ways to toy with gravity. From skydiving to bungee jumping to hang gliding, there are a some blissful floating moments to be found, but they require us to put trust in external devices like planes and parachutes.

As asana explorers, we get to practice trust in our very own God-given equipment: our hands and bodies. Leap off your legs and onto your palms as you take to the air and try on being a birdie in Parsva Bakasana.

Side Crow Pose

Alignment Awareness:

Once you’ve squatted down and twisted, turn your hands to point away from your body at shoulder width apart, knuckle mounds flat.

Give your birdie a perch by placing both elbows against your thigh (knee and hip area) of the side you are twisting to.

Place your hands around 6-8 inches away from your feet so you have room to shift your weight forward into your hands. As foreign as the actions of this pose might seem to be, they actually include one of the most repetitively practiced and familiar poses of all: Chaturanga. Mimic the action of Chaturanga in your arms by moving your chest forward and bending your elbows. It’s this shift forward of weight and elbow bend (akin to what happens in regular Crow pose, Bakasana) that will cause a weight-transfer like a tipping scale, letting your legs get light enough to lift.

Beware of your elbows falling away from each other and the inner hands popping up. Keep reaffirming your commitment to drawing in toward the midline; elbows toward each other, inner hands (index knuckle mounds especially) grounded resolutely.

Hug your legs together as if you could absorb your two separate legs into one. Fan your toes for some extra flying flair, keeping your energy and attention traveling all the way down into your feet.

Gaze forward, or for a moment of extra balance challenge, slowly shift your eyesight toward your knees.

The shoulder of the arm that your knees are not on will want to drop toward the floor. Since your hips are twisting, the shoulders need to stay centered for spinal stability. Endeavor to hold the shoulders even with each other by drawing the shoulder of the arm that the legs are on lightly down, and the freer arm’s shoulder lightly up. Resist away from the floor even as you bend toward it, and slide your shoulder blades down your back to broaden across the collarbones.

The next stage will include twisting the legs onto one arm only, keeping the back elbow off the hip and instead just muscularly and energetically hugging it in toward the body (still mimicking Chaturanga). Then, the full expression will be to round the spine like Cat pose, summon all your inner aerodynamic superpowers, and straighten your arms! The arm that your legs are on might not straighten 100%, but you’re energetically working that way.

Simply return your feet to the floor, come back to the pose you began in, vinyasa through, or practice entering and exiting Side Crow from Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana B).

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