Utthita Parsvakonasana | Extended Side Angle Pose

(oo-TEE-tah par-svah-kon-asana)

utthita= stretch, parsva =side or flank, kona = angle

Type of Pose: Standing




Utthita Parsvakonasana Benefits:

• Strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles.
• Stretches the groins, spine, waist and shoulders.
• Expands the chest and lungs.
• Stimulates abdominal organs.
• Increases stamina.
• Remedies: Constipation, Infertility, Low backache, Osteoporosis, Sciatica, Menstrual discomfort.

Contraindications/Cautions:

• Headache
• High or low blood pressure
• Insomnia
• For any neck problems, don’t turn head to look at the top arm; instead look straight ahead with the sides of the neck lengthened evenly, or look down at the floor.

Step by Step

1. From tadasana, on an exhalation, step or lightly jump feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Work the muscles of both inner thighs up toward each other into the groin (Mula Bandha). Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left.

2. Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee align the knee toward the middle toe of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.

3. As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm; counter this by burrowing your tail bone into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your sticky mat.

4. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Engage the abdominals and lift through the torso to keep the weight out of the grounded hand. Turn your head to look at the left arm or if possible, hand. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left.

5. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and return to Tadasana.

Variation: You can also perform this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. This will help create more stretch in the front groin. As you lower your torso to the side, bring the back of your right shoulder against the inner knee, and press your fingertips to the floor. Push the shoulder firmly into the knee and lean your torso back against the inner thigh. Lengthen your side ribs along the inner top thigh.

Beginner’s Tip: This posture requires good athletic strength and flexibility and should be approached conservatively, gradually widening the stance and dropping the weight. This posture can be supported by placing the right arm on the bent knee. This allows the novice to spread their stance enough to bring the right leg perpendicular and the right thigh parallel to the floor.

Misalignment: Avoid bearing weight in the grounded hand or arm. Watch for the bent knee pushing forward over the toes (past perpendicular to ground), to correct this, take a wider stance.

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