Standing poses are the foundation of our yoga practice. As a beginner, they are your starting point to grow strong and stable. As a more advanced practitioner, you need to practise standing poses to maintain your strength and stability.
Extended Side Angle pose is particularly great; it strengthens the legs, opens the hips, stretches the spine and lengthens the side body. The pose has a few therapeutic applications for sciatica, menstrual discomfort, constipation, low backache and osteoporosis.
This pose is available to all and has a few variations. You can place the lower hand on the floor (or a block) on the inside or the outside of the front foot. For an easier version, you can place your forearm on top of the thigh. You can also make circular movements with the top arm to open up the shoulder joint, I love this after a day at the computer!
Remember to build this pose from the ground up, rooting your feet into the floor (downward energy) so you can access that upward movement (energy) to stretch the spine and open the heart.
Here is a step-by-step description of Utthita Parsvakonasana / Extended Side Angle pose.