Extended Side Angle Pose

Utthita Parsvakonasana

"No one is wise by birth, for wisdom results from one own’s efforts." - T. Krishnamacharya

Extended Side Angle Pose

HOW TO PRACTICE Extended Side Angle Pose IN YOGA (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Extended Side Angle Pose


Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) with hand flat on floor

Extended Side Angle Pose (Sanskrit name: Utthita Parsvakonasana) is a foundational pose of any well-rounded yoga practice. Practicing the asana energizes, strengthens, and lengthens the whole body. It combines the leg position of Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) with the upper body (torso and arms) position of Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). 

If you are looking for a way to feel a total connection from your feet to your fingertips, Extended Side Angle may be just what you’re looking for! Extended Side Angle Pose offers a great way to experience the yogic concepts of sthira and sukha, which describe a balance between steadiness, or firm foundation, and lightness, or ease. By fully engaging the legs, we free the upper body to explore expansiveness and spaciousness.

The trick to mastering Extended Side Angle is to understand that the intention of the yoga pose is not to hit a specific shape, but rather to experience the exhilaration of opening fully and extending through one side of the body while not giving in to gravity on the other. In other words, placing your hand on the floor at the expense of keeping your body in alignment will inhibit the flow of energy and you’ll miss out on one of the biggest benefits. A better idea is to work with one of the variations of the pose in the Yoga 2.0 section, that will allow you to reap the full benefits of this expansive yoga posture.

Benefits of Extended Side Angle Pose

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Practicing Extended Side Angle Pose lengthens the side body and inner thighs while it strengthens the legs and shoulders. The yoga pose challenges balance and therefore, helps you develop the skill of balancing. Side Angle Pose strengthens the side abdominal muscles, particularly on the upper side of the body, as long as you engage those muscles and make sure not to lean your weight into the bottom arm or hand. 

Standing yoga poses, in general, leave you with a feeling of groundedness, because they emphasize lower body strength. Parsvakonasana, in addition, combines the leg position of Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) with strong axial extension and spinal rotation. Holding the yoga posture statically for up to a minute encourages bone strength in your hips and spine. 

Some people also notice a boost of energy after practicing this asana as it takes a lot of effort to hold, and can get the heart pumping and blood flowing. 

Basic Extended Side Angle Pose

Yoga student demonstrates how to do beginner modification of Extended Side Angle Pose (Sanskrit name: Utthita Parsvakonasana)

  1. Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), standing tall with your feet together.
  2. Separate your feet about a leg’s length apart. A good way to gauge this distance is to extend your arms away from your body in a “T-shape” with your palms facing the ground, and then draw an imaginary line from your wrists to the ground. Your feet should be about where this imaginary line falls on the yoga mat.
  3. Rotate your entire right leg outward 90 degrees. Make sure the center of your foot, ankle, knee and thigh are aligned with each other.
  4. Turn your left foot, shin, knee, thigh and hip inward about 30 degrees. Adjust the rotation of your hip so that you feel strongly grounded in the back foot.
  5. On an inhalation lift the pit of your abdomen. As you exhale, bend your right knee so that your knee is in approximately a 90-degree angle. Check to make sure that your front knee is directly over your ankle, and not extending beyond your ankle.
  6. Inhale and spread your arms out to the side, in line with your shoulders, parallel with the ground.
  7.  Take a few breaths in Warrior II Pose, adjusting your weight so that your feet are bearing weight equally.
  8.  Press strongly into your left foot, and from that grounding, extend your torso outward to the right, keeping both sides of your torso long.
  9. Place your right elbow on your right thigh. Take care that you are not simply leaning into your right elbow. Instead, press your elbow into your right thigh to help rotate your ribcage to face forward, even as you continue to allow your left hip to rotate toward the front of the mat. 
  10. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling. Internally rotate the arm and then extend it alongside your ear so that the entire left side of your body is in a long, continuous line and your palm faces the floor.
  11. Keep grounding the left foot as you lengthen the entire left side of the body, from the outside of the foot to the fingertips. 
  12. Press down into your feet and on an inhalation, rise up to standing. Turn your feet to parallel.
  13. Take a few breaths, resting in the center, before practicing the yoga pose on the other side.

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