Side Crow Pose (Parsva Bakasana) is an advanced yoga pose that requires strength, patience, and determination.
Similar to crow pose (Bakasana), side crow pose strengthens the abdominals, inner thighs, arms, and hands. It requires flexion at the wrist, so stretching the forearm muscles and the wrists beforehand may bring more ease and agility as you practice.
Keep reading to see how to get into this playful and challenging posture—this article includes classes and tips for beginners and seasoned practitioners!
Side Crow Pose and Its Benefits
Side Crow is a playful yoga posture that requires strength in the upper body and mobility in the spine, which is necessary to twist while balancing on your hands.
About Side Crow Pose:
Family of Poses: arm balance and twist.
Body Parts: hands, arms, shoulders, core, spine.
Props: 1 block under the feet (optional).
Who Should Do It: Those looking to connect to the playfulness of arm-balancing postures and those who wish to build upper body strength and courage!
Activation of the deep core stabilizers and inner thighs.
Strengthens the core, wrists, hands, arms, shoulders, and upper back.
Stretches the upper back and outer hips.
Improves mental clarity and focus.
6 Strengthening Poses to Prep for Side Crow
Strengthening postures to prepare for side crow pose include:
Phalakasana (plank/side plank).
Parvrtta Utkatasana (revolved chair).
Parvrtta Anjaneyasana (revolved lunge).
Garudasana (eagle pose).
Navasana (boat pose).
Muscles engaged in side crow pose:
The core abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, biceps and triceps, upper back, shoulders, and chest.
Muscles to strengthen to support your side crow pose:
Core and back body (erectors), upper back, arms, inner thighs, and outer glutes.
Muscles to stretch to ease into side crow pose:
The upper back, side waist, outer hips/glutes, groins, forearms and wrists.
Lengthening postures to prepare for side crow pose:
Bound angle pose, child’s pose, seated twists, cow face pose, yogic squat, standing half moon pose.
Counterposes and Contradictions
Counterposes to neutralize the body after doing side crow pose include:
Lizard pose to release the hip flexors
Heart openers to release the front body/chest
Hip openers to release the outer/inner leg lines
Forward folds to release the backline.
The shoulders, pectorals, upper back, and arms work very hard in arm balancing postures, as do the psoas, aka the hip flexors.
To counter crow pose and its variations, you will want to stretch the front body to lengthen the muscles across the front of the shoulder, chest and abdomen.
Stretching the inner thighs and front of the pelvis/hips is the other way to release the muscles worked in the crow and crane pose.
Backbends are a great counter pose to crow as back bending opens the chest, abdomen, and front of the pelvis/hips. A backbend will release and lengthen the muscles that worked to bring you into the arm balance.
Contradictions (those who should not perform side crow) include:
People recovering or who have hip injuries, wrist injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or migraines should avoid doing crow pose until cleared by a doctor.
People who are pregnant or menstruating, and those who suffer anxiety, should also avoid this arm balance and take malasana (yogic squat) or baddha konasana (bound angle pose).
For those with neck injury/sensitivity, those who are not taking the arm balance/inversion, and those with knee sensitivity, you can take malasana (yogic squat).
Achieve Side Crow Pose in a 7-Day Progressive Series on Practice with Clara Virtual Yoga Studio!
This 7-Day Series features 1-2 classes per day to prepare you for Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana).
You’ll move through vinyasa, slow flow, hatha, yin/restorative, mantra, and meditation practices necessary to advance to the peak yoga pose.
This collection is accredited by Yoga Alliance and counts toward 5 CE (Continuing Education) credited hours for yoga teachers.
Please read the instructions on receiving these credits in the Peak Pose Playlist.
How to Get into Side Crow Pose
Advice for Beginners:
Use a block under your feet to get your hips higher.
As you come into side crow, you have the option to take all ten fingers to face the side of your mat instead of the front. This lets you hook the hip of your outer leg on your back arm instead of having all the weight in one arm.
New Members get the first 7-days free on the Practice with Clara Apps!
Take your knees over to one side of your mat.
Hook both of your arms outside the thigh of your outer leg.
Hug your knees in towards each other.
Take all ten fingers to face the FRONT of your mat.
Balance on one arm with the hips hovering.
Lift your hips as you lean forward and look forward.
Bend your elbows and reach your chest forward.
Draw your navel in and up and hug the inner thighs together.
Hover your toes off the ground, draw the heels to your bum.
Option to extend the legs to the side of your mat and spread your toes.
How to Get Into Crow Pose – The Most Straightforward Way!
Using a block when practicing crow pose helps lift the hips so they’re higher than the heart.
How to use a block to come into crow:
Place your block on the lowest height in the middle of your mat.
Step both feet onto the block.
Lift your heels high and perch with your knees wide.
Take your hands to the ground, a bit wider than your shoulders.
Claw the mat with your fingerpads and lift your pelvis toward the sky.
Take your knees towards your upper arms into the armpit pocket.
Squeeze your knees tight to either side of your upper arm.
Keep your pelvis high and look forward.
Puff up the back body with your breath and hug the belly in and up.
Draw the weight forward until you feel your hands on the ground and come to your tiptoes.
Practice lifting one foot from the block and holding it for a few seconds. Then do the other side.
Perhaps try to take both feet up at the same time.
Themes for Yoga Teachers:
Side crow is a strong yoga pose featuring a deep twist and arm balance. For this reason, yoga teachers may want to choose a theme that incorporates the element fire or Manipura, the third chakra at the solar plexus.
Questions to Work with the Energy of Side Crow:
Where are you holding your focus right now?
How do you work through challenging events?
What obstacles are you facing right now?
What is your relationship to patience? Are you a patient person? Why do you think this is?
What is your relationship to perseverance? Do you stick to what you set out to do? Why do you think this is?
When you feel the fire, the heat and intensity of a situation, do you move into it or further away?
How do you feel after doing twists? What emotions come up if any? What sensations arise in your body and where are they located?
How do you feed/fuel your digestive fire? What foods and activities support your inner flame?
Do you feel connected to your power source, your solar plexus? Why or why not?
What are a few activities or simple changes you could make to feel more connected to your power source?