ASANA BREAKDOWN // extended side angle

Welcome to the very first edition of the new Weekly Asana Breakdown post, featuring the oh so sweet
Extended Side Angle!
Sanskrit: Utthita Parsvakonasana
. . . 

Pose Level: Beginner

Extended Side Angle is a beautiful and strengthening pose which goes hand in hand with Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), one of my favourite standing poses. While Side Angle is considered a beginner pose, it has many creative modifications to increase the intensity and difficulty should you desire the extra challenge.

- strengthening for the legs, knees, ankles and core
- stretches the groin, thighs, spine and waist
- stimulates the abdominal organs and lungs

Warrior II
Getting Into The Pose:
Beginning in Warrior II, with your front heel intercepting with your back foot arch, and your arms reaching in opposite directions, inhale as you lengthen your front hand forward. As you exhale, lower the front elbow to rest softly upon the front thigh and reach the back arm directly up towards the sky. As you do so, roll the top ribs open, turning the the front body to face the side. For a little more side body stretch, bring your top arm to hover over your ear, reaching towards the space in front of your mat and rotate the wrist as though you were reaching to turn a door knob. If it's comfortable for the neck to do so, take your gaze up to the sky.

Extended Side Angle with Modification #1
Common Adjustments:
Watch that as you transition from Warrior II into Extended Side Angle that the knee remains directly above the ankle. Take care to evenly distribute your weight between both feet by strongly engaging the legs, the core, and pressing your back pinky toe firmly into the mat.

Use caution when directing your gaze if you have or have ever had a neck injury. If you feel discomfort looking upward, please direct your gaze to the side.

Extended Side Angle with Modification #4
Modifications for Increased Intensity

#1 - move the bottom elbow off of the thigh and softly rest the palm onto the heart.
- core strengthening

#2 - lengthen the bottom hand directly down to the floor, stacking shoulder over wrist.
- side body stretch
- core strengthening
- deepened groin stretch

#3 - to achieve a half bind, wrap your top arm around your back and tuck the hand into the hip crease.

#4 - to achieve a full bind, wrap your top arm around your back, and your bottom arm in front and underneath your front thigh, endeavouring to clasp the hands.
- side body stretch
- core strengthening
- increases stamina
Avoid caving in forward in the full bind, but instead lean back and roll the heart open to the sky.

Extended Side Angle with Modification #5

The photos in this post feature my amazing friend and mentor, Randelle Lusk, mama of Blacksmith Yoga Community. An ERYT-200 and RYT-500, you may find her teaching one of her juicy and powerful vinyasa yoga classes in Calgary or FSJ, or you might join her in one of her upcoming yoga teacher training retreats! (Mexico anybody?...)

Hope you've learned a little something! Check back next week for another Asana Breakdown! If you've got a pose you're curious about and you'd like an in depth look at it, let me know so in the comments!

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