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Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
In this standing pose (Extended Side Angle Pose) your body stretches sideways over your front leg, which is bent to a right angle. As you laterally flex and rotate your torso, enjoy feeling a single stretch and extension from the outer ankle of your back foot all the way to the fingertips of your upper hand.
The benefits of this pose:
- Strengthens and stretches your legs, ankles, hips and shoulders.
- Stretches your groin, chest and shoulders.
- Develops confidence and focus.
- Knee, ankle and back injuries can be exacerbated by this pose.
- Use appropriate modifications and seek expert 1:1 advice if necessary.
- If you have a knee injury, try decreasing the bend of the knee.
- For lower back injuries, try placing your lower arm on the thigh of your bent leg.
- If you have high blood pressure, try practicing with your hands on your hips.
- If you have any neck discomfort or injury, keep your gaze directed towards the ground or look straight ahead.
- Avoid this pose if you are suffering from headaches or migraines.
- Place a yoga block under your lower hand and rest your upper hand on your hip.
Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana) will open your chest and shoulders whilst improving your balance. Start in Utthita Parsvakonasana. Bend your elbows, take your upper arm behind your back and your lower arm under your bent leg and behind your back. Clasp your upper wrist with your lower wrist, interlace your fingers or hold onto a yoga strap. Broaden across your collarbones. Open and lift your chest. Align your upper shoulder above your lower shoulder. Turn your head and look up.
MOVING INTO THE POSE
- Stand with your feet about 120-135cm apart, with your arms stretched to the sides at shoulder height. Turn your right leg 90 degrees out and your left foot about 15-30 degrees in.
- On an exhalation, bend your right knee to a right angle and bend your upper body sideways towards your right leg.
- Place your right hand on the outer edge of your right foot with your fingers pointing in the same direction as your toes. Press your hand down.
- Reach your left arm over your head with your upper arm over your left ear and your palm facing down.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
- Your dristi (focal point) is at your raised hand. Use your gaze to help steady you in the pose.
- If you lose your balance or if it is more comfortable for your neck, try gazing at a fixed point on the ground or straight ahead of you.
EXTEND AND TURN YOUR RAISED ARM
- As you reach your raised arm over your head, turn it in its socket so the inner upper arm is facing your ear and your palm is facing the ground.
- Straighten your elbow using your triceps.
- Extend through your arm, wrist, hand and fingers.
- Keep your fingers together and your hand in line with your arm.
FOCUS ON YOUR BENT LEG
- Bend your knee until the top of your thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Align your knee directly over your ankle, with your shin perpendicular to the ground.
- Keep your knee pointing straight ahead and in line with your hip.
EXTEND FROM YOUR BACK FOOT TO YOUR FINGERTIPS
- Feel the single stretch from the outer ankle of your back foot to the fingertips of your raised arm.
- Be aware of the stretch to your back leg calf muscles and adductors, the front of your pelvis, your front leg gluteals and your back muscles on the upper side.
EXTEND YOUR BACK LEG
- Extend your back knee and lift your inner thigh.
FOCUS ON YOUR TRUNK
- Bring the lower side of your trunk forwards and the upper side of your trunk back.
- Lift your chest and broaden across your collarbones. Don’t allow your upper shoulder to drop forwards.
KEEP GROUNDED THROUGH YOUR FEET
- Press the outer edge of your back foot and the heel of your front foot down to stay grounded.
- Maintain awareness of your feet, keeping them energised and full of life.
COMING OUT OF THE POSE
- On an inhalation, straighten your right leg and come up to an upright position.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.