I love Side Crow because it’s a really great way to strengthen the core, especially the obliques. Twists are a staple in a yoga practice and this twisting arm balance really helps us learn to fly while working our waist, hips, shoulders, arms and abs.
Side Crow pose may seem intimidating but if you warm up properly, it’s really not that much more difficult than regular Crow pose. Here's a quick guide to help you practice.
Use a Yoga Block
For beginners, I like to start with the feet up on a block to get the legs up higher on the arms and to keep the knees stacked and feet together.
As you advance, you can try adding complicated leg variations; but for now let’s start with a very basic version of side crow.
Don't Forget to Warm Up!
Before you attempt Side Crow, you’ll want to make sure you’ve warmed up with some Sun Salutations, standing postures such as Revolved Triangle, Straddle Forward Bend with a twist, Chair pose twists, lunging twists and then some hip and shoulder opening poses while twisting, such as Seated Spinal Twist.
I am also a huge fan of abdominal work and I think focusing on Boat pose, lowering and lifting the legs while on your back, and dropping the legs from side to side on the back, are all great ways to keep developing core strength.
Now That You're Warmed Up…
Start at the front of your mat and perform Chair pose with a twist to both sides to really activate the right muscles.
Make sure to keep your knees in line with each other and twist from the waist, not the hips. Hold for 5 breaths on each side.
Next, grab your block and have a seat on it. Try twisting to again in this position to get the idea of how high up your upper arm needs to be around your thigh.
This is a great way to work on the range of motion needed for Side Crow pose.
After five breaths on each side, stand up and get on top of your block in a closed knee squat. Rise high on the balls of your feet and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Twist your torso as far as you can to the right and line up your right pinky finger with your left pinky toe.
Lean forward and place your outer left thigh atop your right upper arm. You can start slowly by lifting just the top leg up to get a sense of the balance. Eventually you can lift both legs up! And, then lastly, you can remove the block and start from the floor.
Try both sides and keep practicing. If you work on regular crow as well, you’ll soon find out how rewarding and exciting it is to take flight and hold yourself up on your own two arms.