Bakasana - crow pose and side crow pose are low to the ground arm balances that people often set their sights on when they want to explore balancing on their hands. They are a good family of arm balances to start with, because the body is not entirely inverted like it is in forearm stand and handstand. In Bakasana (crow) arm balances we get to enlist the use of our upper body even when the feet haven't completely left the ground yet - the hands become more agile (like the feet) and more familiar with balance. With a lower to the ground set-up, bakasana family arm balances gives us time to build not only the physical requirements of the pose, but the confidence to balance on our hands. I especially love Parsva Bakasana (side crow) for the dynamic twisting involved, but this can be one of the reasons that the pose feels restrictive to some.
Use the pose to get into your body, not the other way around.
Side crow is a full body posture that requires upper body and core strength, and hip and spinal flexibility. If you are unable to get fully into the pose at first, don't fret. Use side crow as an opportunity to discover your strength and mobility working together in this pose in your body. Uncover and understand (without judgement) your limitations. This is yoga. Use my step-by-step guide below. It includes postures that lengthen and strengthen the body in similar ways that side crow asks us to. Incorporate the following sequence into your practice to help build your way into understanding, appreciating and BALANCING in side crow.
<< Parsva Bakasana >>
- Set up at the back of your mat with your whole body turned to one side.
- Rotate your chest and arms towards the front of your mat (it's a twist).
- Spread and set the hands. Plug your fingertips into the mat. Hands are active and grippy.
- Important ---> Lift your hips!
- Move forward into chataranga arms with knee coming to rest on back of one arm.
- Mindful that the shoulders stay in line. Keep the free arm involved - elbow drawing in.
<< Strengthen and Lengthen >>
Use the following sequence as a way to prepare the body for side crow and as a way to create the length and strength required to do the pose. Notice where you run into resistance. Don't add any extra dialogue to it, just notice. Breathe into it. Move on.
- Reclined supine twist
- Boat pose
- Reclined crow pose (create the pose laying on your back)
- Reclined side crow pose (removing the balance element focus on the engagement and shape)
- Two half vinyasas to connect body and breath
- Chair pose prayer twist
- High lunge prayer twist
- Dog pose
- Seated twist
- Shoulder flossing with a yoga strap (a neck tie or belt works too). Hands wide enough apart on the strap to move the arms overhead behind you to your belt line and back. Keep arms straight. Repeat several times moving through natural range of motion of the shoulder joint. Your shoulders and chest will thank you.