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Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow or Side Crane) is a powerful arm balance that can build physical strength in the abs and upper body, as well as inspire confidence, patience, flexibility, and fearlessness.
Instead of putting one knee on each arm as you would in Crow Pose or Crane Pose, Parsva Bakasana requires you to engage your obliques, take a deep twist, and stack both knees against one of your elbows.
Once you lift your feet and legs up into Parsva Bakasana, make whatever slight, subtle movements you need to help you find your balance. When you find your sweet spot, the pose feels effortless.
Side Crow and Side Crane basics
Sanskrit: Parsva Bakasana (parsh-vuh buk-AHS-uh-nuh)
Pose type: Arm balance
Targets: Upper body
Why we love it: “Side Crow was one of those poses where I was like, ‘There is no way I will be able to do this,'” says Yoga Journal contributor Sarah Ezrin, a yoga teacher and trainer based in Northern California. “It blew my mind that people could so easily balance like a little top.”
Then one day during practice, Ezrin had a revelation: “I centered my opposite arm on my outer thigh and it was like a light bulb went off. I was truly flying! And all my weight was on one arm. I mean, of course, the other arm participated, but this felt way more satisfying than any of the arm balances where you’re on both hands equally. It showed me the power of counter-balancing—combined with a whole lot of believing in yourself.”
Become a member today to get access to Yoga Journal’s Pose Library, which blends expert insights from top teachers with video instruction, anatomy know-how, variations, and more for dozens of poses, including Side Crow or Side Crane. It’s a resource you’ll return to again and again.
In addition to strengthening your arms and wrists, this pose can improve your sense of balance. It also helps tone your abdominal muscles and stretch your spine.
Side Crow and Side Crane Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Facing the long side of your mat, come into a squat with your feet and knees together.
- Inhale, lifting your left arm to the ceiling. Exhale, twist to the right and bring both hands to the floor on the outside of your right foot. Position your hands shoulder-distance apart with your wrist creases parallel to each other and to the edge of the mat.
- Shift your torso forward, bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle so that your elbows stack over your wrists as if you are moving into Chaturanga Dandasana. Roll the heads of your upper arms back and away from the floor.
- Perch your right outer thigh on the shelf of your left upper arm. Draw your elbows toward each other keeping them close to the body.
- Twisting deeply, lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees and feet stacked.
- To secure your balance, lower your forehead onto a block or bolster as you lift your feet.
- Hold for 3–5 breaths, then release your feet to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
Though this pose seems to rely on your arm strength, the abdominals are critical to holding you up and helping you avoid putting too much pressure on your wrists. Twist deeply and activate your core as you hold the pose.
If you feel unsteady as you move into the pose, set a block in front of you so that you can rest your head on it to secure your balance when you shift forward into the pose. Lower your forehead onto a block or bolster as you lift your feet off the floor.
Teaching Parsva Kakasana and Parsva Bakasana
These tips will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- Don’t compress your wrists. In order to avoid this common mistake, yoga teacher Tias Little advises spreading your fingers, as if stretching the webbing between them. This action will provide support for your upper body.
- Have students practice lifting their feet off the floor one by one or simultaneously.
- Students with elbow or shoulder injuries, or lower back problems may want to avoid the pose.
Variation: Side Crow with straight legs
After getting into the pose, you can try to slowly straighten your knees out to the side for more of a challenge.