Victor Chau guides us through Half-Lotus Side Crow, an asana that helps to massage the digestive system and cultivate strength and concentration.
Benefits of Half Lotus Side Crow
Similar to all arm balances, this half-lotus side crow (ardha padma parsvabakasana), cultivates strength and concentration for the mind and the body. This challenging asana is perfect for toning the abdomen and legs. There is also an added benefit in massaging the digestive system thanks to the deep twist in the torso. With the legs in a half lotus position, it gives the hips a deep sense of release and opening, while strengthening them at the same time.
It is easy to forget to engage the core. However, most first timers do not realise the importance of activating the oblique muscles in order to achieve this pose. Sometimes the foot of the bent leg might go too far forward (almost like in the shape of half-pigeon pose), and this will loosen up the bandha system of the pose. Therefore, bring that foot as close to the groin as you can – think about doing half-lotus standing forward fold. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to lean your weight forward.
Keep the upper back round as if you are doing a cat pose; in other words, shoulder blades broad and wide. Think of it as a side crow, but with a much deeper twist and a lot more engagement in the oblique muscles to ‘suck the body upwards,’ if you will. Bend the elbows to as much as 90 degrees to create a shelf for your leg to rest on. Once you have more strength and control, you may straighten the arms a bit more. Remember to hug the arms in as if you are doing a chaturanga dandasana.
Breath always comes first. Once you have set the legs up in half lotus – imagine yourself trying to do a toe stand in a hot yoga class – exhale to twist to the side and keep the belly sucked in to keep your uddiyana bandha engaged. Once the knee is hooked into the upper arm, press that knee down into the arm, as this will create a rebounding energy to lift the hips, legs and upper body up. Breathe into the chest and practice lateral thoracic breathing. Finally, lean the body weight forward and pivot on your arms – this is the most fundamental principle of arm balances. If you do fear falling into your face, feel free to use a yoga bolster underneath the head.