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Extended Side Angle posted 18 June 2014

ASANA SPOTLIGHT: EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE (utthita parsvakonasana)

This pose features in the Vitality portion of the Baptiste practice. It deserves that classification as it is a powerful pose, full of energy and life force. It is a pose with a number of variations to meet the strength and mobility of all practitioners.

• From Warrior 2 with your right foot forward bring your right hand to the floor just inside your right ankle. If you cannot reach all the way to the floor you can rest your right hand or fingertips to a block or rest your right forearm across your right knee.
• Some practitioners can bring their right hand to the floor but do so at the cost of turning their chests down towards the floor too. In extended side angle your chest should be open to the side wall, just as it was in Warrior 2 where you came from. If you lose this alignment you are better to use a block or rest your forearm to your knee.
• The longer the base of your pose and the deeper you bend your right knee towards a 90° angle the greater freedom and depth you will find here.
• Keep your right foot pointing straight forward and press the inner edge of your right foot firmly into the floor.
• Press the outer edge of your left foot into the floor. Lift the inner arch of your left foot and engage all the way up through your inner left leg.
• Lengthen your inner right thigh muscle forward but draw the right thigh bone into its socket at your hip.
• Turn your inner left thigh outwards towards the back of the room.
• Reach your left arm straight up to the sky. Draw your left shoulder blade in towards your spine and spin your left lung up towards the sky.
• Here is where the range of options really begins to open up. A first variation is to reach your upper arm forward towards the front of the room over your left ear. Keep the upper arm on the same plane as your left leg and spine.
• Another variation is to bind the arms behind your back. Reach your left arm to the sky, turn your left palm to the right wall and fold that arm behind your back. You can stop here with a half bind if you wish. If you take just a half bind, work towards slipping your left fingers to the inside of your right thigh.
• To take a full bind bring your right arm back beneath your right thigh from the inside. Fold that arm up outside the right thigh and bind your hands or grasp your left wrist with your right hand.
• Many people tend to swing their hips to the right and their head and shoulders to the left when taking a bind in this pose. If you do, once you have your bind, endeavour to swing your hips straight towards the back of the room and elongate the entire front side of your torso.
• In all variations the default direction of your drishti gaze is to the sky. If your neck is stiff or you experience any pain trying to look up you should look straight to the side or even to the floor. What a fantastic, strengthening, opening and energising pose this is! Practice it with joy and feel it flood your body with power, cell by cell.

 

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