Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) is a deeper version of Side Angle Pose.

Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Difficulty level: Easy

Benefits

  • Stretches the waist, spine, chest, sidebody and shoulders
  • Strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs

Place a block near your mat.  Begin in Down Dog.  Inhale, stretch your right leg high behind you as you press your hands firmly into your mat.  Exhale and draw your right knee in towards your abdomen, then place your right foot in between your hands.  Swivel your left heel to the mat with the foot roughly parallel to the back edge of the mat.  Inhale and windmill your arms up and out parallel to the floor, with the right arm forward and the left arm back (into Warrior 2 stance).

Exhale your left hand to your left hip.  Take your gaze down towards your block; with an exhale, place your right hand on top of the block.  The block should be close enough to the right calf that you can press the calf into the block while pressing the block back into the calf to stabilize the front shin.  Inhale, stretch your left arm out at shoulder height, palm down, parallel to the floor and perpendicular to the body.  Pull your left arm firmly into engagement in the shoulder, then rotate the arm (without losing engagement in the shoulder) over your head with the inner arm close to the left ear.  Your fingers should be pointed away from your body creating a long side body from your finger tips down to your back (left) pinky toe as it presses into the mat.  Draw your shoulder blades firmly together on your back, firming them into the back ribs.

Hold the pose for several breaths.  Keeping your tailbone heavy, firm your belly, and press from your left hip through your left heel.  When you are ready to exit the pose, exhale and draw your hands to frame your right foot onto the mat.  Step your right foot back to meet your left foot, press through plank back to Down Dog.

Variations:

As you are able to more easily stretch in this pose, practice with lowering the height of the block under your forward hand, until eventually your right fingertips rest on the floor.

Or, instead of using a block, you may bend your right elbow and place the forearm on your right thigh, palm up, energetically pressing out through the right fingertips.  Lift the ribcage up away from the right thigh to create additional space in the left side as you stretch.

Regardless of which variation you are practicing, as you hold the pose, gently draw your lower rib cage forward and lift your gaze (if your neck allows) to further open the chest.

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