The secret to a good Side Crane Pose is twisting to your maximum capacity before shifting your weight onto your arms. Also known as Parsva Bakasana, practicing this pose will test the strength of your oblique muscles, hips and shoulders.
(Pronounced as "PARSH-va bah-KAHS-anna")
The Sanskrit word Parsva means "side, flank or oblique," and Baka refers to a crane or a wading bird.
Squat down on your yoga mat with your weight over the balls of your feet. Keep your feet and knees together. Lean your torso slightly back and exhale fully as you pull in your stomach. Now that you've emptied the air from your belly, tighten your core and twist your torso to the left. You need to twist very deeply here from the pelvis so that your knees will be able to nearly reach the back of your right shoulder. Press both of your palms into the floor by your left side, keeping your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers apart.
While pressing your knees together, push the knees into the shelf created by the back of your right upper arm. Then holding your knees firmly against the back of your right armpit, bend your elbows down to a 90-degree angle as you lean your torso forward. As you are bending down to the side, you are gradually shifting all your weight onto your arms. You should bend forward so far that your head is at the same level as your bent elbows. This shifting of your weight will help you lift your feet off of the floor. Hold your feet and knees together the entire time.
Try not to let the back of the left elbow make contact with your body. You should engage your abdominal muscles to help stabilize yourself. However, if you need the extra support, then you can pull your left elbow in under your pelvis to provide a little more support to hold up the torso.
If this is this far as you can go in the posture, then stay here for as long as you can. If you can go further, then squeeze your knees even tighter against the back of your right arm. Do not let your knees slide down your arm as you lift your hips up higher. Lean forward a little bit more and straighten your arms. Now your head will come up to the same level as your knees and your raised feet behind you.
Do not round your back too much. Try to expand your chest and engage your shoulders. Your arms will not be perpendicular to the floor. Rather, you may need to lean forward to the point where your arms form a 45-degree angle to the floor. The point is that your arms must remain as straight as possible to reach the full pose.
Try to center your belly button between your hands as they support you on the floor. In the beginning, you can look down at the floor. When you become more comfortable with this pose in the future, then you can lift your head up a little without overstraining your neck to look in front of you instead.
Refine the pose further by keeping your toes directly next to each other so that neither foot sticks out in front of the other. Keeping your heels together, pull your heels closer to your buttocks.
Do not hold your breath; instead, try to breathe normally. Stay in this posture for 20 seconds or more if you can. To come out of the posture, lower your feet back down to the floor on an exhalation. Now repeat these steps while twisting to the other side and hold the posture for the same amount of time.
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