Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana

How to Do Extended Side Angle Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana. Ann Pizer

Type of pose: Standing

Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, and hamstrings. Opens the chest and shoulders.

Instructions

1. From downward facing dog, bring your right foot to the front of your mat, placing it to the inside of your right hand.

2. Drop your left heel down to the floor. Angle your heel toward the center of your mat. Opinions vary on the ideal angle for the foot in relation to the ankle.

Somewhere between 90 (which would be parallel to the back edge of your yoga mat) and 45 (toes pointing at the top left corner of your mat) degrees is acceptable. 

3. Bend your right knee so that your calf and thigh form a right angle with your thigh parallel to the floor.

4. Bring your right hand inside or outside the right foot, depending on which is more comfortable. Stay lifted up on the right fingertips so that you are not dumping too much weight into your hand. Lift your left arm up straight up toward the ceiling.  Open your chest and make sure your left shoulder is aligned over your right shoulder.

5. Bring your gaze up towards your left hand if that feels ok on your neck. Otherwise, it's ok to look to the side or even down at your mat as long as your chest remains open. 

6. To keep the body in balance, repeat the pose with your left foot forward.

Beginners' Tips:

If your right hand does not naturally reach the floor, it's going to be difficult for you to open your chest toward the ceiling.

Overreaching for the floor is makes your chest turn downwards instead. There are a few solutions to this problem. Choose whichever variation allows you to comfortably open your chest.

1. Take a block under the right hand. This additional height can be enough to free up the chest. Make sure that you are not resting your torso on your leg but are rather using your core strength to keep it lifted.

 

2. You can also try placing your right forearm on your right thigh instead of bringing your right hand all the way to the floor. Keep the right hand bright and press into your forearm to keep your shoulders moving downward. 

Advanced Tips:

1. Drop your left arm over your left ear so that it points toward the front of the room. 

2. Bring your left arm behind your back. Reach your left finger tips around your right side to grasp the inside of your right thigh for a half bind. If that feels good, you can go for the full bind by lifting the right hand off the floor to meet your left hand behind your back.

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