Here’s another modern twist to the original angle pose (Konasana), which takes the simple stretch to a whole new level. In this pose, you’re not just engaging the torso, but also engaging all your muscles to loosen knots and rejuvenate the whole body in the process.
Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Derived from Sanskrit, Utthita means extended, Parsva means side, or flank, Kona means angle, and, asana means pose or posture.
Extended Side Angle Pose Directions:
Start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). As you exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms to be parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides with your shoulder blades wide and your palms facing down.
Slightly turn your left foot towards the right, and your right foot out to 90 degrees, and align the right heel with the left heel. Firm up 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.
Roll the left hip slightly forward towards the right, and rotate your upper torso back to the left.
Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. As you exhale, bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
As you bend the knee, place the inner knee toward the little-toe on the side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.
Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head. As you inhale, reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palms facing the floor.
Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body and turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear.
As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and bring 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 and actively push the right knee back against the inner arm (counter this by burrowing your tailbone 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.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up back to starting position. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time on the left side.
Muscles Engaged: Biceps, triceps, abdominal muscles, quadriceps, pelvic muscles.
Extended Side Angle Pose Variations:
Modification: Stand erect with your feet 24 inches apart. Place your right hand on your waist and tilt your head to the same side. Inhale and bend laterally to your right and simultaneously slide your left hand towards your right armpit. Exhale to return to the starting position.
Extended Side Angle Pose (With a Block)
Modification: Begin as you did in Step 1 and press the left outer foot and heel to the floor as you bend the right leg at the knee to form a 90-degree angle. Bring the right hand to the floor, touching it with your fingertips, or place your hand on a block.
Move the right armpit close to the outer right knee so the arm and shin are parallel. Reach the left arm up toward the ceiling.
Benefits of Extended Side Angle Pose:
Utthita Parsvakonasana brings the mind and body numerous benefits.
Some of the added benefits of extended side angle pose include:
- Strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles
- Stretches the groin, spine, and waist
- Opens up the chest, lungs, and shoulders
- Stimulates the abdominal organs
- Increases stamina for better performance in other workouts and other daily activities
Extended side angle pose is recommended for individuals who are suffering from:
- Lower back pain
- Menstrual discomfort
Extended Side Angle Pose Precautions:
As with many exercises and workout routines, it is important to keep your doctor in the loop, especially if you are recovering from any injuries or if you suffer from any chronic illnesses.
Make sure to avoid the extended side angle pose, especially if you are experiencing the following conditions:
- Extremely high or low blood pressure
Extended Side Angle Pose Follow-Up Poses:
After a strenuous workout, it’s important to relax your muscles. The pigeon pose is a good pose to practice after the extended side angle pose as it helps to open up tight hips and stretches the muscles in the pelvis and torso.
Pigeon pose also helps to alleviate any back pain you may experience during or after your workout.
Extended Side Angle Pose Recap:
Beginners often have two problems with this pose:
Problem 1: They can’t keep their back heel anchored to the floor as they bend their front knee into the pose.
Modification: To solve the first problem, brace your back heel against a wall. As you bend the front knee and then lower your torso to the side, imagine that you’re pushing the wall away from you with your heel.
Problem 2: They can’t easily touch the fingertips of their lower hand to the floor once they’re in the pose.
Modification: For the second problem, either rest your forearm on the top of the bent-knee thigh (instead of trying to touch the hand to the floor) or use a block outside the front foot to support your hand.
1. How can one teach the extended side angle pose?
Get in touch with your yoga instructor or a local studio near you to learn about how you can become an experienced and certified instructor in order to teach this practice to other individuals.
Updated by Siya Rajan on 05/30/2018