Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parvakonasana)

extended side angle pose (via flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/myyogaonline/457353757/)
Pronunciation: oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna
Pose Type: Standing

Extended Side Angle is a full-body wake up pose that gives the body an incredible dose of energy. The pose teaches the yogi how to stabilize their legs while opening and expanding the sides of the rib cage and training the muscles to support good breathing. It tones the muscles along the side of the body – from the outer heel to the outer hip and up the waist to the outer arm. Developing this strength gives your spine the structural support it needs to stay strong, long, and flexible.

The aim in Extended Side Angle is to engage the muscles completely and create a single extension from the outer heel, along the side of the body and extending into the outstretched arm. Beginners often encounter two problems when working in this pose: the first is trouble keeping their back heel anchored to the floor and the other is they can’t easily reach their fingertips on their lower hand to the floor. The first problem can be solved by bracing your back heel against a wall and imagine pushing the wall away from you. The second is to rest the forearm on the top of the bent front knee or use a block to support the hand.

Pose Sequence

Extended Side Angle may be done as part of an asana flow, typically from Warrior II:

  1. Standing with your feet about 3-4 feet apart, with heels in line with each other, turn one foot forward toward the front of the mat.
  2. Bend the front knee about 90 degrees (parallel with the floor) keeping your knee directly over the foot.
  3. Inhale and lift both arms parallel with the floor, extending through the fingertips.
  4. Extend your body out and over the front leg, bringing the front arm down and placing it on the outside of the front foot (or resting on a block).
  5. Stretch the other arm up and over the shoulder, palm facing front
  6. Keep the spine and neck long and inline with the extended back leg, revolving the rib cage toward the ceiling.

Release from the pose by actively pressing into the feet, and on an inhale rise strongly windmilling the arms back to parallel.

Benefits of Extended Side Angle – Utthita Parvakonasana

The benefits of this pose include:

  • Opens the hip joints and stretches the groin.
  • Releases the shoulders and neck while stretching the legs.
  • Opens the chest and lungs
  • Increases overall body strength, particularly through the core

Utthita Parvakonasana is an excellent standing pose to perform at or near the beginning of a standing pose sequence. It is also good preparation for wide-open groin poses like Bakasana.

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