Asana of the Month: Utthita Parsvkonasana

Utthita Parsvkonasana/Extended Side Angle

chetna-parsvakonasa-a-1

I love this pose, it’s like the best early morning stretch any time of the day! It’s strengthening, stabilizing, lengthening, and expands the rib cage to encourage a full deep breath. It’s hip opening, creates tone in the muscles and flexibility in the legs and allows the pelvis and abdomen to widen. It’s a full experience for the body, breath and mind. The only thing it doesn’t do is make me a cup of tea, but other than that, it has everything really!

Benefits

  • Strengthens legs
  • Increases peripheral circulation
  • Strengthens and opens hip rotators
  • Lateral rotation of trunk lengthens the spine and massages the digestive organs
  • Can relieve sciatic and arthritic pain

Actions

  • Standing
  • Hip Opener
  • Lateral bend

Coming into the pose

  • Standing in Tadasana in the middle of your mat, step the feet apart approx 1 of your actual legs distance apart aligning big toe to big toe
  • Externally rotate the right foot 90 degrees in the hip socket, and internally rotate the right foot slightly
  • Engage your core, by drawing the pelvic floor up and in between the pubic bone and the navel back towards the spine
  • Inhale, and then exhale as you bend the right knee, so that the knee is stacked over the ankle, the shin perpendicular to the floor and the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Ensure that your knee is not collapsing to the middle of the mat by gently pressing the knee to the outside of the mat
  • Root through the outside edge of the back foot to stabilize the ankle and reduce pronation in the back foot
  • Raise the arms shoulder height so they are parallel with the floor – allow the shoulder blades to slide down the back
  • Breathe
  • Reach forward with the right arm, creating length in the spine and release the right forearm on to the thigh. Avoid collapsing in the right waist and sinking weight into the forearm
  • Raise the left arm towards the sky and then lower the arm over the left ear with the palm facing the floor
  • Rotate the head and ribcage to face the sky
  • Keep the core engaged, and breathe

To come out of the pose

  • Ground/root down through the feet, inhale and lift through the extended arm as you straighten the bent knee.
  • Turn both feet forward and relax your arms by your sides, and return to Tadasana

Modifications
For an increased stretch to your groin, perform this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. As your fingertips or hand connect with the floor or block, bring the back of your right shoulder against the inner knee so that your shoulder can firmly press into the knee.

chetna-ext-side-angle-2

Modify by placing a block under your hand as a guide

For Beginners – Instead of placing the hand on the floor, rest your forearm on the top of your bent-knee thigh. Avoid resting on the thigh and collapsing into the right shoulder. Encourage the length to move between right shoulder and neck and to lightly lift the upper body weight away from the bent-knee thigh. Beginners may also place a block under the hand as a guide.

About the Instructor

chetna-head-shot-1aChetna has been studying yoga and its many aspects since 1999. She began teaching in 2003 and is a graduate of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga (SSCY), where she was certified in Classical Ashtanga (8 limb) and Hatha Yoga Systems. She is currently completing an internship in Yoga Therapy through Integrated Yoga Therapy and has received her Professional Yoga Therapist certification (500 hour level). Chetna is registered with the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT500.

Chetna teaches beginner, intermediate and Therapeutic Yoga for specific conditions such as breast cancer, in the Victoria area. She joined the faculty of the SSCY Yoga Teacher Trainings in 2007.

Chetna draws inspiration from bearing witness to the transformational and healing effects Yoga has had on her life and the lives of others. While she began Yoga primarily as a physical practice, it has become a part of everything in her life. Her gentle approach to teaching promotes an environment that is relaxing and encouraging, empowering and fun.