Asana of the Week: Parsva Bakasana

Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane posture) is the twisted version of the ever-popular introductory arm balance, Bakasana.  This challenging revolved balancing asana strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, chest, and obliques.  The strong, active twist massages the abdominal organs, namely the intestines, stimulating digestion and detoxification.

To enter Parsva Bakasana, begin in a squatting position with the feet together.  Turn the knees out to one side, twisting deeply, and brace the elbow against the outer thigh.  Squeeze the knees together and press the outer thigh into the elbow to engage the core.  Plant the hands in front of you slightly wider than shoulder width apart and begin to shift the weight forward into the palms.  As you feel ready, claw the mat with the fingertips and float the feet, drawing the heels back toward the buttocks.  If floating the feet feels impossible, just practice shifting the weight forward and back from the feet to the palms, experimenting with the actions in the shoulders and core.  Once you are able to lift the feet from the floor easily, work toward straightening the arms as much as possible, still pressing the outer thigh into the upper arm.

To modify this pose, try setting the outer hip on one elbow and the outer thigh on the other so that the weight of the legs is fully supported by the arms, easing the work of the abdominals.  To intensify, practice extending both legs out to the side and push through the balls of the feet.

More advanced practitioners may try entering Parsva Bakasana from tripod headstand by drawing the knees in to the chest, then revolving from the waist to place the outer thigh on the opposite upper arm.  Once the thigh is securely braced against the triceps, press down into the hands to lift the head from the floor.  This transition requires a great deal of upper body strength and solid control in the core, so don't be afraid to tumble out a few times while you figure out what needs to happen if you're just learning to press up from a tripod headstand -- just do your best not to land on your pretty face.

 Parsva Bakasana Sequence
  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) 
  2. Malasana I (Garland/Yoga Squat)
  3. Malasana II (Revolved Garland) - Twist to the right.
  4. Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane) - Place right outer thigh on left elbow.
  5. Eka Pada Koundinyasana I (Sage Balance) - From Parsva Bakasana, extend both legs straight and send the left leg back.
  6. Vinyasa
  7. Repeat steps 1-6, twisting to the left.


  1. Love coming into this pose from headstand, however I can hardly get back up to headstand! Finding that lift from the twist... should be my new focus :)

  2. Thanks for this! Tried Side Crane for the first time tonight thanks to your excellent, step-by-step description...and was successful. This pose seemed so out of my reach until tonight. I love your blog!

  3. Hey Lisa - Awesome! Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the breakthrough!