What Is a Side Crow?

Rebecca Harkin

The side crow is a type of yoga pose where the body is balanced on the hands with both bent knees resting on a shelf created by one of the elbows. This pose is also known as parsva bakasana. Side crow is a challenging yoga position which requires arm strength, good balance, and some practice before it can be mastered.

Side crow pose might be done with a yoga mat and yoga gloves.
Side crow pose might be done with a yoga mat and yoga gloves.

Before trying the side crow pose, it is a good idea to stretch the back using the side chair pose or squatting halfway down and twisting to place the right elbow on the right knee with the palms pressed together. The side chair pose can be repeated on the other side to completely stretch and warm the back. To set up for the side crow pose, squat down on the mat, up on the toes with the arms resting loosely at the sides of the body. Twist the body, bringing the hands over to the right side and, with the fingers spread apart to provide a wide base, place the hands perpendicular to the legs with the right hand slightly behind the bottom and the left hand marginally ahead of the feet. Gently bend the elbows and rest the right knee against the back of the left elbow.

Yoga can be used as a gentle way to lose weight.
Yoga can be used as a gentle way to lose weight.

To lift into the side crow pose, the practitioner carefully leans her weight forward onto her left elbow and hands. The body may have to be raised or lowered using the toes to seat the outside of the right leg onto the left elbow in a comfortable and stable position. Once a comfortable position has been reached, roll forward onto the left elbow and hands. Balance control is provided by pressing the hands down into the floor, pulling the belly button inward, and fixing the gaze on one spot with the head slightly lifted. Try to hold the pose while taking five slow breaths and then, to come down from the lift, shift the weight backward while sliding the knees off the left elbow.

The side crow is typically performed on both sides with a small rest period in between. This is a difficult yoga pose which takes a fair amount of practice to master. It may be helpful to begin by rocking forward onto the elbows, hold for just one breath and then roll backward, gradually working up to holding the pose for the suggested five breaths. Early tries at the side crow may end by collapsing forward onto the face, so until the side crow is mastered, it may be helpful to place a pillow in front of the head.

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