Extended Side Angle Pose  -Utthita Parsvakonasana

Step by step

  • Stand facing the long side of your mat with your feet about a leg distance apart. 
  • Turn your right foot out so your toes are pointing to the short edge of the mat and turn your left toes in, about 45 degrees. You are looking for stability through both legs. 
  • As you exhale, bend your right knee, thigh parallel to the floor, knee above the ankle 
  • Take a deep inhale and firm your lower abdomen in and up. 
  • As you exhale, extend your body over the right leg, and bring your right arm down, either with your elbow on your right thigh or place your hand on the floor to the inside or the outside of the right foot - whatever feels right for your body. 
  • Reach your left arm over your head, next to the left ear,
  • Turn your palm so that you are bringing the little finger side of your hand to face the floor.
  • Extend from the outside of the left heel through the left fingertips and revolve the ribcage up towards the ceiling. If your neck allows it, you can look up from underneath the left armpit to the ceiling. 
  • Hold this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 breaths. 
  • To come out of this pose press actively into your feet, and on an inhalation strongly extend through the left arm as you come back up to straight. 
  • Reverse the direction of your feet to do the same pose on the other side. 

Beginner tips

  • Keep pressing the floor away with both feet, to find lightness in your spine.
  • Use a block or rest your forearm on your thigh if it helps. 

Benefits

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs, ankles and knees. 
  • Increases flexibility in the shoulders. 
  • Works the core muscles. 

Watch out for

  • Try not to crunch the side waist as you bend. If this is happening rest your forearm on your thigh or use a block as suggested in the beginners' tips to keep your side waist long. 
  • Pay attention to keep your bent knee stacked above the ankle, and pointing in the same direction as your toes. 
  • If you have a shoulder injury, keep your top hand on your hip instead of lifting it up.

Variations

  • Try a dynamic variation of the pose, flowing from Extended side angle to Reversed Warrior on the exhalation, and back to Extended side angle on an inhalation. 
  • The body's weight always tends to shift to the ball of your front foot. To counteract this tendency try lifting the ball of the front foot and feeling once again the anchor of your back foot. Resist the floor with your back foot while allowing the top of your back thigh bone to sink deeper into the hip. Then let the ball of the front foot rest back on the floor.