Side crane is an arm balance with a twist. For the version we are describing here, only one arm maintains contact with the legs.
To begin, find a squat with the thighs roughly parallel to the floor. Place the right hand on the outer thigh for a little leverage and then bring the left upper arm to the outside of the right leg. Working with the breath try and draw the right shoulder back on the inhale and slide the left armpit as close to the thigh as possible on the exhale. Take several breaths to work into the twist, then let the left arm move slightly back to the knee so the skin of the upper arm rotates out and locks the arm in place.
Once the arm is set, squat down all the way to place the hands on the floor. If you can, place the left hand right outside the right foot and your right hand back far enough to allow your shoulders to stay relatively level. (You may have to lean forward a bit to get the hands down and that’s fine. Just try to maintain solid contact between the left upper arm and the leg as you do so).
From here, lift the hips away from the heels again slightly and begin to lean into the hands. See if you can bring the bellybutton roughly halfway in between the elbows and begin to straighten the arms. They probably won’t get all the way straight (if you can, then by all means) but the attempt will help to prevent the chest from collapsing. Lifting the chest and leaning forward, let the feet gently lift up away from the floor. Once you have found your balance point, check to make sure the right shoulder is level with the left (especially if you are looking to the side as in the picture – looking forward can help to ensure the shoulders stay even). Keep the thighs together and try to spread weight evenly across the hands. Keep a steady, even breath and hold.
You can stay in the pose for as long as you like, then bring the feet down and repeat on the second side.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!