EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE (utthita parsvakonasana)

EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE (utthita parsvakonasana)
EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE (utthita parsvakonasana)


Benefits

Strengthens ankles, knees, thighs and hips
• Stretches the ankles, groin, waist, shoulders back, spine and lungs (intercostals)
• Increases endurance and stamina
• Massages and stimulates abdominal organs
Contra-indications
• Headache
• Insomnia High or low blood pressure
• Knee injuries
• Neck problems – keep the gaze in the same direction as the heart centre, or gaze down to the floor allowing the neck to be even on both sides

Step by Step

(oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna)
utthita = extended
parsva = side, flank
kona = angle

1. Stand in Tadasana. As you exhale step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Lift your arms horizontal to the floor with the palms facing down. Keeping the arms full of energy, feel the shoulder blades and heart region open and broad. While the legs are straight, angle your left foot in slightly to the right and turn your right foot out 90 degrees. The right heel should be aligned with the left heel after adjusting the ankles. Lightly contract your thighs and then rotate your right thigh outward just enough that the centre of the kneecap follows the centre line of the right ankle. Rotate the left hip slightly forward (or inwards), while rotating your upper torso back to the left, thus preventing the torso from facing downwards later in the pose
2. As you inhale ground the left heel to the floor. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor (as if performing a Warrior stance). As you bend the right knee, gently connect the outer right foot into the earth so the knee continues to follow an even, centred line over the heel. If you’re strength permits, position the right thigh parallel to the floor. Note: do not allow the thigh or hips to fall lower than the level of the bent knee
3. Continue to ground your left heel to the floor. As you exhale, contract abdominal and core muscles as you place the right side of your torso down on the right thigh. Without falling heavy into the thigh, press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Bring energy into the pose by connecting the right knee against the inner arm. During this phase of the pose, the abdomen may passively push out creating an increased arch in the lower back. To prevent this unwanted passive arching, pull in the abdomen enough that your tail bone draws into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis
4. As your left arm is now reaching straight up from the shoulder to the ceiling, firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Then turn the left palm to face toward your head, and as you inhale reach the arm over the back of your left ear. The palm is facing the floor without creating a crowded feeling in the neck and shoulder. Continue to elongate and stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, feeling a natural lengthening along the entire left side of your body. If comfortable, turn your head to look at the left arm while keeping the sides of the neck even. As the left side of the body lengthens, mimic this length along the right side of the torso as well. Stay evenly engaged through both feet encouraging lightness rather than heaviness
5. Focus on long, rich breaths to fuel the thighs’ stamina. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To exit the pose, inhale as you press both heels actively into the floor. Feel your left arm reach and pull you toward the ceiling. As your right leg straightens, bring your spine balanced over the pelvis and arms horizontal to the floor. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then return to Tadasana

Modifications• For an increased stretch to the groin, perform this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. As the fingertips or hand connect with the floor, bring the back of your right shoulder against the inner knee so that your shoulder can firmly press into the knee
• For beginners, instead of placing the hand on the floor, rest your forearm on the top of the bent-knee thigh. Avoid resting on the thigh and collapsing into the right shoulder. Encourage length between the right shoulder and neck and lightly lift the upper body weight away from the bent-knee thigh. Beginners may also place a block under the hand as a guide

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