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Side Crow Pose Tips and Variations

Yoga | Yoga Poses

Side Crow Pose, also known as Parsva Bakasana, is a posture that combines elements of flexibility and control in a unique way. This posture builds strength in the chest, shoulders, forearms, and oblique muscles, in addition to nourishing your spinal tissues through the twist.

Like any yoga posture, Side Crow has its challenges, but it is an excellent pose to explore regardless of how long you’ve been practicing arm balances, because the variations of this posture can give nearly anyone at least a place to start.


Credit: Sarah Smith
  1. Twist. More than anything else, Side Crow is a deep twist, so make sure you are comfortable with this before you move forward. Start in a squatted position with your knees together and take your left elbow to the outside of the right knee. Then take your right elbow and place it on your right hip. At this point you should have an elbow at either end of your thigh.
  2. Shift. Plant your palms on the floor, bend your elbows, and take your weight forward. Keep your chest both elevated (think almost as if you are doing Upward-Facing Dog) and reaching forward. Your gaze point should be slightly ahead of you on the floor.
  3. Lift. When you have shifted forward so much that there is little weight left in your feet, squeeze your inner thighs together and lift your legs.
  4. Flip it. Try it on the other side!

If You Fall

 Credit: Sarah Smith

Pretend like you did it on purpose!

There happens to be another posture called Fallen Angel, which is essentially Side Crow with your head on the floor. When you make contact with the floor, just lift your top leg and no one will ever know that you didn’t actually mean to do it. This may also be the closest you ever get to breakdancing.

Step It Up: Side Crow Variations

 Credit: Judy Rukat

Keep one arm free. If you are comfortable with classic Side Crow, free your right arm from your hip and take your right hand out slightly wider. It might be easier to come into this variation if you take your left elbow higher up your thigh (farther way from your knee) in order to balance the weight.

 Credit: Sarah Smith

Straighten your legs. The key here is to engage your quadriceps and really squeeze the inner thighs together. Flex your feet in order to keep the legs as active as possible.

 Credit: Sarah Smith

Scissor the legs. Take the top leg up and shift it backwards. I actually find this variation to be much easier than having the legs stacked on top of one another because the weight is distributed more evenly over the mat.


  • When you are setting up, make sure that the part of the thigh in contact with your arm is higher than your elbow and that it isn’t so close to your knee that it will slip off.
  • Spread your fingers and make sure you are pressing every part of your hand into the floor. You want to increase the surface area of your hands as much as possible to feel solid in the balance.
  • Keep your gaze forward! Your gaze should always be in the direction that you want your body to move. Looking up also helps to keep the chest up.
  • Be easy on yourself. Sometimes you have to try these things a good few times in order to really see any progress. Give your body a chance to catch up to where your mind wants to go.

Let us know how your Side Crow goes in the comments!

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