ROBERT HALLEY IS THE MAN ON THE MAT
EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE (UTTHITA PARSVAKONASANA)
Extended Side Angle Pose opens the chest and shoulders, builds strength in the legs and can bring relief for lower back pain among other benefits
This pose helps to open the chest and shoulders while strengthening the inner thighs, groins, quadriceps and hamstrings. It aids in the relief of lower back pain, menstrual pain and sciatica as it massages the abdominal organs and increases stamina and endurance.
As the weight of the body shifts towards the front leg, awareness and engagement of the back leg is often lost and the balance becomes off-centred. The shoulder of the extended arm also protracts away from the spine rather than retracts towards the spine.
To avoid these mistakes, press into the four corners of the back foot and draw the kneecap up to engage the quadriceps. Externally rotate the shoulder of the extended arm backwards to open the heart and lift the chest to focus on stacking the shoulders on top of one another.
Use your breath to move into the pose. With each exhalation, you should feel the four corners of the feet and front palm root deeper into the earth and with each inhalation, you feel your heart and chest lift, where the spine grows tall and long and muscles of the extended shoulder rotate towards the spine to lift the gaze.
Bring your attention towards the sensations of the body. Notice the movement of each muscle and bone with each breath that is taken. Rather than focusing on what you look like, concentrate on how each breath either lifts you higher with the straightening of your spine or grounds you deeper with the weight centring on the earth. Soon enough you'll find alignment in this pose.