Utthita Parsvakonasana (which translates as Extended Side Angle pose) is a phenomenal standing pose to perform at or near the start of your standing pose sequence. This pose is also excellent preparation for wide-open groin poses, such as Baddha Konasana, Malasana as well as Bakasana.
The benefits of this asana are the following:
- Strengthens legs, ankles and knees.
- Stretches groin, spine, waist, chest, lungs and shoulders.
- Opens hips and reduces fat around the hips. Stimulates abdominal organs and helps to improve digestion.
- Alleviates sciatica, backache, menstrual discomfort, osteoporosis, constipation and arthritic pain. In addition, the Extended Side Angle Pose increases stamina.
Extended Side Angle Pose Technique
Begin in Tadasana. Inhale deeply and jump your feet apart between one and 1.3 metres. Raise your arms sideways in line with your shoulders and your palms facing down.
Turn your left foot in a bit to the right and then your right foot out to the right at 90 degrees. Align the right heel with your left. Tighten your thigh muscles and then turn your right thigh outwards so that the centre of the kneecap is in a line with the centre of the right ankle. Roll your left hip slightly forward toward the right but rotate your upper torso back to the left.
Exhale and then bend your right knee so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor and attempt to get the right thigh parallel to the floor. Draw your shoulders back and down. Stretch your left arm straight up to the sky and then turn your left palm to fact towards your head. With an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear with the palm facing the floor. Lengthen from your left heel through your left fingertips, extending the whole left side of your body.
Turn your head to gaze at the left arm. Release your right shoulder a distance from the ear. Attempt to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left. Exhale and then bring the right side of your torso as close as you can to the top of the right thigh.
Press your right fingertips or palm onto the floor on the outer aspect of your right foot. Actively push your right knee back and against your inner arm. Counter this by nestling your tailbone into the back of your pelvis toward the pubis.
Breathe deeply and then hold the pose for about 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale to come up. Extend your left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat to the left. After this come up and return to Tadasana.
If you are a beginner and can’t reach the floor, then place your hand on the inside of your foot or use a block under your hand. You can also balance your elbow on your bent kneel. If balance is a problem, then work up against a wall and keep the back heel firmly anchored to the floor.
Variations to Extended Side Angle Pose
You can also do this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. This will help to create more of a stretch in your front groin.
As you bring your torso to your side, bring the back of your right shoulder against your inner knee and press your fingertips to the floor. Push your shoulder firmly into the knee and then lean your torso back and against your inner thigh. Extend your side ribs along your inner top thigh.
If you need a wider space between your legs, move your left foot out.
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