Extended Side Angle Pose: Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Strengthens your thighs, hips, knees, and ankles.
- Stretches your groin, back, spine, waist, ankles, lungs (intercostals) and shoulders.
- Massages and stimulates your abdominal organs.
- Increases endurance and stamina.
- High or low blood pressure
- Knee injuries
- Neck Problems – Keep your gaze in the same direction as the heart center or gaze down to the floor allowing your neck to be even on both sides.
utthita = extended
parsva = side, flank
kona = angle
- Begin in Mountain Pose. Exhale as you step three to four feet apart.
- Lift your arms horizontally so they are parellel to the floor with your palms facing down. Keep you arms full of engery as you feel your shoulder blade and heart region open.
- While your legs are straight, angle your left foot in slightly to the right and turn your right foor out 90 degrees. The right heel should be aligned with the left heel after adjusting your ankles.
- Lightly contract your thighs, and then rotate your right thigh outward just enough that the center of your kneecap follows the centerline of your right ankle. Rotate the left hip slightly forward (or inwards), while rotating your upper torso back to the left thus preventing your torso from facing downwards later in the pose.
- As you inhale, ground your left heel to the floor. Then exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor (as if performing a Warrior stance).
- As you bend your right knee, gently connect the outer right foot into the earth so that your knee continues to follow an even, centered line over your heel.
- If your strength permits, position your right thigh parallel to the floor. Do not allow your thigh or hips to fall lower than the level of your bent knee.
- Continue to ground your left heel to the floor. As you exhale, contract your abdominal and core muscles as you place the right side of your torso down on your right thigh. Without falling heavy into your thigh, press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Bring energy into the pose by connecting the right knee against the inner arm. During this phase of the pose, your abdomen may passively push out creating an increased arch in the lower back. To prevent this unwanted passive arching, pull in your abdomen enough that your tail bone draws under and towards the pubis.
- As your left arm is now reaching straight up from the shoulder to the ceiling, firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Then turn your left palm to face toward your head, and as you inhale reach your arm over the back of your left ear. Your palm should be facing the floor without creating a crowded feeling in the neck and shoulder.
- Continue to elongate and stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, feeling a natural lengthening along the entire left side of your body. If comfortable, turn your head to look at the left arm while keeping the sides of the neck even. As the left side of the body lengthens, mimick this length along the right side of the torso as well. Stay evenly engaged through both feet encouraging lightness rather than heaviness
- Focus on long, rich breaths to fuel the thighs’ stamina. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- To exit, inhale as you press both heels actively into the floor. Feel your left arm reach and pull you toward the ceiling. As your right leg straightens, bring your spine balanced over your pelvis and flow your arms horizontal to the floor. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then, return to Mountain Pose.
- For an increased stretch to your groin, perform this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. As your fingertips or hand connect with the floor, bring the back of your right shoulder against the inner knee so that your shoulder can firmly press into the knee.
- For Beginners - Instead of placing the hand on the floor, rest your forearm on the top of your bent-knee thigh. Avoid resting on the thigh and collapsing into the right shoulder. Encourage the length to move between right shoulder and neck and to lightly lift the upper body weight away from the bent-knee thigh. Beginners may also place a block under the hand as a guide.