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Extended Side Angle Pose

side angle pose strength stretch yoga pose

The amazing thing about most yoga poses is that one posture can benefit many parts of the body all at once. Extended Side Angle Pose is one such position.

Utthita Parsvakonasana (oo-tee-tah parsh-vah-ko-nah-sah-nah) Extended Side Angle Pose is a lunging yoga posture that targets the shoulders, chest, hips, and legs. If you have tight hips, this pose is highly recommended. And while you open the hips in this pose, you also strengthen your thigh muscles, and lengthen the muscles down the sides of your body. Let's start by standing in Warrior Two.

Warrior Two to Extended Side Angle Pose
Warrior Two is a lunging leg posture. Let's begin with the right foot forward on your yoga mat with the left foot behind you. The front knee is bent with the knee joint stacked over the heel of the foot. Be sure your knee and toes are pointing directly forward. Your back leg is straight, but with the foot firmly planted into your mat. You want to feel steady and strong in your Warrior posture.

Your torso is long and tall with an engaged belly. This will provide support and strength for your upper body. Your arms are extended outward over your legs. Your gaze is forward; look out over your right hand. Take a few breaths here to experience the energy of the posture. Now you're ready for the next pose.

Moving into Extended Side Angle Pose
As if you're reaching for something up on a shelf, lift your right arm up and forward. This will create an angle in the upper body. Now, rotate your arms so that your right arm is reaching downward toward the floor and your left hand will reach toward the ceiling. This will open the chest and shoulders. You want to maintain a good length in your torso and spine. In this position, your upper body will be aligned with your front leg with the top of your head pointing to the front of the room.

Advanced Level
For the full expression of the pose, place your right hand on the floor. This will require a wide stance in the legs. By being closer to the ground, you may experience a more significant stretch in the inner thighs and hips. Plus, the muscles of the legs will be more engaged in order to stabilize your body in this pose. Now, extend your left hand over your head toward the front of the room. Your arm may come down close to your head. This will create the lengthening sensation down the side of the body. This is the full Extended Side Angle Pose. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Be sure to do the other side.

Beginner & Intermediate Levels
You can still gain the benefits of this posture without needing to go as deep. To start, you can shorten the distance between your feet in this lunge. You will still need to engage the leg muscles, though, to support your body. Next, your hand doesn't need to touch the floor. Instead, you can rest your bent arm (or even your hand) on your thigh. You will still create the angled position in your upper body, but you just won't have to go down as low. Just be sure to maintain a nicely aligned torso over your thigh while you're in this modified version of the pose. Lastly, reach your left hand into the air and extend it over your head toward the front of the room. You can vary how closely you bring your arm toward your head. You just want to feel the intended stretch down the side of your body.

This is a wonderful pose that you can add to your Sun Salutation sequence. It brings a great depth of body awareness when you practice Extended Side Angle Pose.

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