Parsva Bakasana — Side Crane Pose or Twisting Crane Pose

Parsva Bakasana — Side Crane Pose or Twisting Crane Pose Steps, Benefits and Contraindications - Sharp Muscle
10 min read
Updated: April 1, 2023

Parsva Bakasana, also known as Side Crane Pose, or Twisting Crane Pose, is a twisting version of Bakasana, wherein the contact point between the side of your leg and your arm can be the main focus of the pose.

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This arm balancing yoga asana is cornerstone for your balance and also a point of leverage for deepen your twist. Several subplots in this yoga asana help to achieve and maintain the final asana.

  • In Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose):
    • Your hips flex to a point of active insufficiency. This means that the prime mover of this action, your psoas, cannot generate much additional force for holding the legs up on your arms because it is already fully contracted.
    • Thus your abdominals combine with your hip flexors to bring the legs onto your arms, and then other muscles are used to lock your legs in place. This creates a fluid synergy between subplots, since your muscles that press your leg into the arm also turn your lower body away from your upper body in the twist. This action then links to your opposite arm, which straightens to turn your chest and upper body. Your lumbar spine connects your chest and pelvis.
    • Contracting one side of your abdominals increases the stretch of your other side. Activating your abdominals on the lower side of your body stabilizes the pose by drawing your outer thigh tighter against the arm.
    • This eccentric contraction also stimulates your Golgi tendon organ of your stretching abdominals, causing reflex lengthening of these muscles.


Known as:Parsva Bakasana, Side Crow Pose, Side Crane Pose, Parsva Kakasana
Sanskrit name:पार्श्व बकासन
IAST:Pārśva Bakāsana
Pronunciation:Parsh-vuh bahk-AHS-anna
Type:Arm balance, Side-twist, Twist Pose
Total time:Up to 30 seconds
Drishti:Down and forward toward fingertips
Chakra:Manipura Chakra
Focus:Arm, core, spine
Indications:Stimulate pancreas, kidneys, liver, intestines, massages abdominal organs, improves detoxification, digestion, and vertebral column
Preparatory poses:Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Downward-Facing Dog Pose, Noose Pose
Follow-up poses:Vajrasana, Standing Forward Bend Pose
Contraindications:Arms, shoulders, core or back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome or spondylitis; pregnancy and menstrual cycles

Meaning + Origin

The name Parsva Bakasana came from the Sanskrit name of three words — Parsva + Baka + Asana:

  1. Parsva” = “side or flank or oblique”
  2. Baka” = “crane”
  3. Asana” = “pose or posture”
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The pose often referred to as Crow Pose, Bakasana actually translates to Crane Pose, which can add to the more eye-catching symbolism. The Crow Pose, or Kakasana, is a slightly different pose. In Crow Pose, the arms are bent; In Crane Pose, the hands are straight. As the arms straighten in Crane Pose, the imagery becomes more clear – the arms are long and graceful; Body still and regal.

In Asian cultures, especially in Japan, the crane represents happiness, eternal youth, good luck and longevity. And while the crow is considered a harbinger of misfortune or misfortune, in many cultures it is a symbol of magic, mystery, wisdom and luck.

Benefits of Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose or Twisting Crane Pose)

The Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) gives your body the same benefits as the Bakasana (Crane Pose). But in increased volume of the Bakasana, following benefits you can gain during practice:

  • As this yoga asana put a lot of pressure in your arms, strengthens your entire arm, and makes it more flexible and strong. In addition, the pose extends your elbow and wrist, making them more flexible and firmer.
  • It massages your core and abdominal organs. This helps to tone the organs of your stomach such as your pancreas, kidneys, liver, intestines, etc., thus it helps in detoxification and digestion of your body.
  • Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) extends your back and improves blood flow to your spine. This improves the alignment of your vertebral column and keeps your spine healthy.
  • This yoga asana is supposed to stimulate your Manipura Chakra, which increases self-confidence and self-control. It also helps in bringing feelings of self-pleasure and peace.
  • The pose build up your strength and flexibility of your entire body. Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) teaches us to balance our body and prepares us for deeper postures.

Parsva Bakasana — Side Crane Pose: Instructions, Anatomy Engaging Tips and Tricks

Since Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) requires significant physical and mental muscles, be sure to warm up well before practicing it. Practice several rounds of Surya Namaskar, or Classical Surya Namaskar and 10 minutes of active standing yoga poses before going to this pose.


  • Start to tilt forward onto your tip-toes.
  • Squeeze your knees together and lift up into the pose.
  • Create a lock between your knees and keep them pressed together evenly.
  • Connect squeezing your knees together with mula bandha to recruit the muscles of your pelvic floor and cause them to contract more forcefully.
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Anatomy Engaging Tips and Tricks


  • Engage your serratus anterior and your pectoralis minor to extend your scapulae away from the midline of your back. Contract your pectoralis major and its synergists to adduct your humeri. All combine to lift your torso and stabilize your shoulders — a key function in the posture.
  • To get a feeling for contracting these muscles, stand facing a wall and press your one hand against it, drawing your elbow in toward the side (adducting it). With your other hand, feel your pectoralis major (at the front of your chest) and your teres minor and major (under your arm and on your scapula).
  • Engage these same muscles in the final pose.


  • Your hands are the foundation, connect them to your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
  • Pronate your forearms and press your palms of the hands into the floor, using your pronators teres and quadratus as well as your flexors carpi radialis and ulnaris (your wrist flexors).
  • Maintain stability in your hands and wrists and then contract the triceps to lift your body upwards by straightening your elbows. The long head of your triceps originates from your scapula, it means that its contraction contributes to stabilizing your shoulder girdle.
  • In lifting your body, activate your front deltoids to synergize the action of your triceps and pectoralis major.
  • Use your lateral deltoids to press your arm against the thigh, locking your hips into flexion and twisting your torso.
  • Note how the muscles of your arms connect with those of your shoulder girdle, as described in Step-1.


  • Engage your tensor fascia lata and gluteus medius muscles of your hip to press (abduct) your thigh against the upper arm (above).
  • Squeeze your upper arm against the thigh, using your triceps to straighten your arm and your lateral deltoid to abduct your shoulder outwards (below).
  • These actions create a point of contact that stabilizes the posture and augments your twist.


  • Combine your upper-side back muscles (your erector spinae and spinal rotators) and quadratus lumborum with your oblique abdominals to twist your body.
  • Your oblique abdominal is like sheets of muscle that slide over one another. Your internal oblique on the lower side of your body draws your upper-side shoulder toward the lower-side hip. The external and internal obliques on your upper side of the body combine to flex and laterally rotate your torso.
  • Contract your abdomen in this position to isolate your oblique muscles alternately on each side of your body, and use them to increase your twist. These muscles stabilize your spine and engage them in the final posture.


  • Flex your knees to squeeze your lower legs against the thighs, activating your hamstrings.
  • Contract your tibialis anterior to dorsiflex your ankles. Extend your toes by engaging your extensors hallucis and digitorum. Evert your ankles to open the soles of your feet using your peronei. Balance this by co-activating your tibialis posterior muscles to augment the arches of your feet and create an inversion force at your ankle joints. This counters the eversion created by your peronei and stabilizes your ankles and feet.
  • Engage your adductor muscles along your inner thighs to squeeze your knees together, locking them in place.
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Modifying Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose)

  • You can practice Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) by using the chair to develop your twist. To further develop your twist, you can place a block under your heels and squeeze your thighs together at your knees.
  • Then place your hands in prayer position, and press the back of your arm against the side of the thigh to turn your body.
  • Try fixing your thigh and pressing your arm against it; then fix your arm and press your thigh against your arm.
  • Finally, press both your thigh and your arm against each other equally.
  • Feel how each of these actions stretches different parts of your body.


1. Injury and surgery

  • It is an advanced level posture requiring a strong core, arms and shoulders. It is advised to always work within your limits. Individuals should avoid Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) in case of recent or chronic wrist, elbow, shoulder, rib cage, hips or back injury.
  • Individuals with any chronic injury or surgery should also avoid practicing this pose and practitioners should tell their yoga teacher/instructor about their history, which is related to such conditions.
  • A chronic hernia surgery, or women who have had a caesarean, etc., can exert pressure in the deep internal throat muscles during this twist yoga pose. Therefore, not only a fresh injury or surgery but even an old one should be taken into consideration.

2. Lack of body and breathing connection

  • For a individual to successfully go into this posture, some important points in this yoga pose demand complete awareness and synchronization of the breath with the movements of the body.
  • Twisting movement of the back and abdomen is favorable when done with exhalation. It is necessary to bend the body forward and lift the legs off the mat and tuck the core along with the full awareness of your breath and gaze forward. Lack of connection between breathing and these alignments can result in collapse from the posture.

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow

Even with carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow individuals should avoid practicing Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane Pose) otherwise worsen the conditions due to the extra pressure on the nerve involved.


While you are practicing this this yoga pose it require fundamental physical and mental strength. However, to help you enjoy this yoga pose when first attempting or working with your physical strength, a few precautions can be followed by trying these modifications:

  • Staying in this posture for more than a few seconds requires strength in your core, arms, and shoulders.
  • If you are new to this yoga pose, you may want to rest your feet on a yoga block or bolster.
  • If you find it difficult to lift both legs simultaneously, then have released your one leg at a time until you have built enough strength and confidence to lift them.
  • You can lift the base of your wrist with a folded mat to reduce your angle of extension in case of any mild tension in your wrist joints.

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