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Essential Sequence: Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow)

I love creating sequences for Parsva Bakasana. I always have. Since the posture contains so many components, there are countless ways I can take the class. I can focus on a sequence of upper body and core strengthening postures before tackling Parsva Bakasana. Or, I teach a practice full of deep, detoxifying twists before guiding my students into this peak pose. Other times, like in the sequence below, I’ll create a more balanced approach where each of the posture’s components is equally prepared.

Sequencing for Parsva Bakasana is also deeply satisfying because a sound, logical progression can help students break through and do the posture for the first time. Confusion is one of the biggest hurdles to doing this pose well—-or, at all. Often times students are physically capable to do the pose but struggle because they don’t know the building blocks. A good sequence demystifies the actions and helps you feel your way into the pose.

Since Parsva Bakasana is the foundation for more advanced arm balances such as Dwi Pada Koundinyasana and Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, it’s a nice posture to emphasize in mixed level classes because you can encourage the more seasoned students to work on these variations.

Here are a couple of thoughts about the practice before you begin:

Sequence Focus: Parsva Bakasana requires core strength, upper body strength, hip flexibility, and spinal flexibility. The practice begins with core strengthening postures, then transitions into a progression of twisting standing postures. The standing postures I chose will help open your hips and prepare your spinal muscles for the twisting component of Parsva Bakasana. Finally, the posture hits its’ peak with Bakasana and Parsva Bakasana. If Bakasana is a challenging pose for you, please check out my Bakasana sequence. Take your time, be patient, and enjoy yourself—-even if you struggle a little.

Before You Begin: For a longer, more intense practice, you can begin with Sun Salutations. Feel free to include as many lunge salutations, Surya Namaksar A, and Surya Namaskar B as you’d like. Otherwise, you can dive into the practice below.

After You Finish: This sequence is predominantly twists. Twists prepare the body for forward bends and backbends, so, really, you can go either way after you’ve concluded Parsva Bakasana. If you want to do forward bends, Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Pose), and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) are a good bet. If you want to do backbends, I recommend a Low Lunge to open the front of your thigh before transitioning into a few rounds of Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) and Urdvha Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).

You could take a few minutes in seated meditation before calling it a day and resting in Savasana.

Parsva Bakasana Sequence

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you FREE print-friendly PDF download for you to keep.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}



17 Comments

  1. jason, I’m a public-health worker in Ethiopia – I got your Yoga Journal podcasts years ago before leaving for far-away places (Nepal, South Sudan, and Tanzania before here), and your approach of creating change through consistency rather than force has been deeply helpful – getting back to yoga-as-practice, even just ten minutes a day, lets me keep doing work that otherwise might burn me out completely.

    just discovering your website, and very grateful for these Essential Practices – there’s no internet fast enough for your YogaGlo classes here. I look forward to someday taking class with you in person – for now, many thanks for sharing so generously!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing sequences with us! Just a quick question–should the poses in this sequence be practiced all the way through on one side and then repeated again all the way through on the other side, or should we do just one run-through, alternating sides (on the applicable poses) as we go?

    1. Hi Tammy,

      Great question. The best way to do the sequence is to one side, then repeat the other side. Of course, you could experiment, but I’m inclined to do the right side, then the left side of each posture before moving to the next.

      Thanks for practicing with me!

      Jason

  3. I really enjoyed your workshops at Triyoga. I found the content very informative and helpful particularly the A&P and loved the sequences we practiced. These sequence cards are brilliant and will assist me with my lesson planning. Thanks so much for sharing Jason. 🙂

  4. Hello Jason, I have discorvered you and your site for a few weeks and I really like you and your method. I have a simple question: before starting your sequence should I warm up? And how? thanks
    Margherita (from Italy)

  5. I’m glad you like my teaching and the blog, Margherita. Please check out the “before you begin” section paragraph above the sequence. It will give you some good options to start with!

  6. Hi there – the arm balance tutorials are so helpful for me. I was wondering if you might consider a step-by-step guide for eka pada koundinyasana, either here, on your blog, or on yogaglo. I’m always reading that its an entry level arm balance, but I’m stymied. That back leg just won’t come up!
    Thanks for the support you provide through your newsletters to those of us practicing on our own.

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