Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)
How to do it
Begin standing with your feet wide apart, left foot turned out and arms extended out.
Exhale: Bend your left knee and place your left elbow over your left knee, raise your right arm up and look up. Keep you left knee over your left ankle.
Inhale: Extend your left leg and lift back up, arms out to the sides.
Repeat several times, then stay in the pose.
Breathing in Utthita Parsvakonasana
Inhale: Bring your right arm over your head, stretch through the right side of the body while lifting it up and slightly back. Pull your chest away from your navel.
Exhale: Progressively contract your abdomen and plant your back foot firmly into the ground. Keep pulling your left knee out to keep it aligned over your left ankle. Avoid “hanging” on your front hip, keep your left hip higher than your left knee.
Utthita Parsvakonasana: 3 stages allows you to move into the pose gradually and pay attention to every aspect of the movement. It also shows the students different options and gives them permission to pick the one that it most appropriate for them right now.
Kneeling Utthita Parsvakonasana is easier than the full version of the pose, and it shift the side stretch into the area right above the pelvis and around the hip. It is easier to maintain a purely lateral stretch for most students in this version, but they need to be comfortable of their knees.
Utthita Parsvakonasana: Arm sweep is very effective for relieving neck tension. By moving your arm up and down, you are increasing circulation to the area between your neck and shoulder. To amplify the effect, it is useful to keep the arm up for few breaths while looking up, and then fold it behind your back and keep it there for a few breaths while looking down. You will also get a deep stretch along the entire side of the body.
Arm behind back
Utthita Parsvakonasana: Arm behind back shifts the focus to the side of your neck and the front of your shoulder for a deep stretch. This position might make it easier to guide the top shoulder back, so that the shoulder stay stacked on top of each other.
Hands behind the back
Utthita Parsvakonasana: Hands behind the back is a challenging, close-frame version of the pose. It can give the students a great sense of accomplishment , but it is also ripe with potential problems. In their effort to connect the hands behind their back the student might round the upper back forward, place the head in an awaked position and ignore the safety and proper alignment of their front knee. That is why this pose is only appropriate for more experienced students, who can troubleshoot all of the issues above.
With Anjali mudra
Utthita Parsvakonasana with Anjali mudra enables us to leverage one arm against the front knee and use it to control the position of the knee and the rotation of the upper body. In this position, the front knee and the chest will move away from each other. This pose also actively strengthens the hips since the arms don’t support the body in any way. It is particularly important to avoid sinking into the front hip here.
Knee press with block
Utthita Parsvakonasana: Knee press with block works great for engaging the outer hip and controlling its position. Be sure to keep your front knee over the ankle at all times as you press your front knee and hand on the same side into each other. This type of passive resistance is great for building hip strength, especially in hip abductors and it facilitates the stretch in the inner thigh.
With chair, knees bent
Utthita Parsvakonasana with chair, knees bent is the easiest and safest version of the pose that still allows the students to experience a lateral bend. The student can control the degree of the side bend by modifying which part of the arm gets placed on the leg. More adventurous students can bring their hand all the way down to the ankle, as long as this doesn’t rotate the upper body forward.
With chair, leg extended
Utthita Parsvakonasana with chair, leg extended is a bit difficult to get into and requires that the height of the chair seat is appropriate for the height of the student. The main point here is to use the chair to create support for the front thigh to take the load off the front knee and hip. Both feet still need to be firmly planted on the ground.
Viparita Virabhadrasana Combo
Utthita Parsvakonasana + Viparita Virabhadrasana combo works great to alternately contract and stretch the sides of the torso, particularly the muscles right above the pelvis on both sides of the body. It also actively strengthens the muscles of both hips and mobilizes the shoulders and neck.