How to Do Side Crane (Crow) Pose in Yoga (Guide to Parsva Bakasana)

Arm balances are often seen as the ultimate challenge in yoga asana practice and can feel intimidating to approach. But with the right amount of strength, flexibility, patience, and perseverance, it can be possible to achieve these poses in no time. The first step to attaining Side Crane Pose is to believe in yourself.

“Side Crane Pose was one of the first arm balancing poses I learned how to do. I really believe that if this pose is taught well, it can be accessible even for a more beginner yoga practitioner,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “Arm balances can be extremely empowering to learn as you discover new abilities and learn to break down barriers you previously thought were impossible.”

Side Crane (Crow) Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Parsva bakasana
Pose Type: Arm Balance Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Advanced pose
Targets: Biceps, triceps, wrists, palms, fingers, shoulders, spine, abdominals, and hips
Benefits: Strengthens your biceps and triceps, stretches and strengthens your wrists, stimulates your palms and fingers, opens your shoulders, twists your spine, tones your abdominals, stretches your hips, and improves balance
Preparatory Poses: Four-Limbed Staff pose, Crane (Crow) Pose, Boat Pose, Blank Pose, Revolved Chair Pose, Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, and Warrior III Pose

How to Do Side Crane (Crow) Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by coming into a squatting position with your feet and knees together as you balance on the balls of your feet and use your hands on the mat in front of you to increase stability here.
  2. Then slowly twist to the right and place your hands on the ground near the outside of your right foot. Try to put your hands in line with your shoulders with your middle finger pointing forwards towards the edge of your mat. Create a firm base with the palms of your hands by stretching out all your fingers and pressing into the four corners of your hands.
  3. Gradually begin to shift your upper body towards your left arm as you bend your elbows.
  4. Place the outside of your right thigh on your upper left arm.
  5. With an exhalation, twist a bit deeper and lift your feet off the ground as you bring your left knee on top of your right knee.
  6. Gaze at a single spot on the ground ahead of you and use your abdominal muscles to hold your body up and stay balanced in this position.
  7. Hold this pose for a few breaths or as long as it is comfortable. To exit the pose, gently place your feet back on the ground and return to a squatting position. Then repeat this pose on the opposite side.

Beginner’s Tip

It is crucial to make sure you securely place your thigh onto your upper arm in this position, as this will provide excellent support for you to stay in this balancing pose. Additionally, engage your core throughout this practice to hold you up and relieve excess pressure in the wrists. If you are afraid of falling forward or feel unsteady, you can place a large bolster in front of you and rest your forehead on it as you lift your feet up into the pose.

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