How to do extended side angle (utthita parsvakonasana)
Extended side angle is another yoga basic. It’s a powerful pose that lengthens your sides and spine, strengthens your legs and core, trains your muscles to support deeper breathing and boosts energy. A great pose for the morning!
In this post I’ll walk you through some prep poses, modifications and up-levels so you can introduce this into your practice.
Preparing for extended side angle is mostly about opening up the sides of your body, but I also think stretching my inner thighs helps me find a deeper stance and gives me morespace to open across my chest. Baddha Konasana or here Supta (reclined) Baddha Konasana is a great opener for the inner thighs, perhaps even more so in the upright pose with the forward fold – I was just really feeling the recline when I shot this!
Next, open up your sides with these three yummy stretches – eye of the needle, seated side bend, and half lord of the fishes (ardha matsyendrāsana). In each pose, inhale and lift through your sternum, exhale and twist through your mid back, open across your chest and feel for length along your sides.
To come to extended side angle, first find warrior II – your front foot in line with your back arch, hips facing the side, and arms stretched out infront and behind you. Inhale and lift through your sternum, exhale and bring your front arm to rest on your leg, other arm reaching overhead. Create an inward rotation in your upper arm to protect your shoulder. On your inhale lengthen along both sides of your body and bring your ribs on top of each other, feel for opening across your chest. On your exhale pull your belly button towards your spine.
A modification of this pose that I love is my upper hand placed on my sacrum, I find that gives me a lot of space to rotate through and open up my chest. The full version of this pose is taking your front hand to the mat or to a block. Feel for maintaining space along your lower side (the right side here) rather than crunching down. Breathe deeply and feel powerful!
Enjoy your energetic new addition to your practice! What helped you in this pose? Do you feel tightness or tension anywhere? Where do you feel really open?
Here’s to living powerfully.