Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)


What is Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)?

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Extending your arms, legs, and upper body is the focus of Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose). This is an excellent asana for stretching your sides while strengthening your lower body. 

The Extended Side Angle Pose strengthens your core muscles and increases shoulder flexibility. It encourages both mindfulness and physical engagement of significant muscle groups.


The name Utthita Parsvakonasana is derived from Sanskrit words "Utthita" which means "Extended," "Parsva" which means "Side”, "Kona" which means "Angle," and "Asana" which means "Posture or Seat." 

Body extended on one side with the legs at an angle together with the side body is the meaning of Utthita Parsvakonasana. This standing stance is combined with Utthita Trikonasana and Virabhadrasana II to create a standing yoga flow practice.

In medieval Hatha yoga books, the extended side angle position is not described. It first appears in the 20th century in Krishnamacharya's Mysore yoga system and the teachings of his students Pattabhi Jois and B. K. S. Iyengar, among other asanas with names that illustrate the position of the body and its limbs.

Sanskrit Name: उत्थित पार्श्वकोणासन            Pronunciation: Utt-thi-t Paar-saav-kon-aahs-uh-nuh

Pose Type: Standing Pose                        Also known as: Extended Side Angle Pose

Strengthens: Knee, Leg, Ankle & Core    Stretches: Knee, Vertebral column, Thorax, Ankle, Shoulder, Leg, Abdomen, & Lungs

Health Benefits of Utthita Parsvakonasana:

  • Reduces backache.

  • Strengthens the legs.

  • Reduces menstrual discomfort.

  • Can help with sciatica symptoms.

  • Helps athletes tone their calves and hamstrings.

  • Helps in expanding the chest, arms, and shoulder muscles. 

  • This improves respiration and offers the entire body a burst of energy.

  • This posture promotes joint flexibility with an increased range of motion. 

  • The abdominal organs are stimulated in this pose, which improves digestion.

When to Avoid Performing Utthita Parsvakonasana:

  • Avoid during migraine.

  • Avoid during high blood pressure.

  • Avoid if you have weak joints or joint pain. 

  • Avoid if you experience nervous system disorders.

  • Avoid if you have recently been injured or undergone surgery.

How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)?

How to do Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)?

The complete process of performing Utthita Parsvakonasana is divided into four parts: warm-up, the posing practice, things to keep in mind, and relaxation. So, let’s dive in straight and learn how this practice can be started. 

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Utthita Parsvakonasana

To start your Utthita Parsvakonasana practice- first, warm up your whole body and get your blood moving. Given below is the series of preparatory poses to do prior to the practice of the Extended Side Angle Pose: 

1. Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations) - A couple of rounds of the 12 steps sun salutation will significantly loosen up the calves, shoulders, and lower back. This yoga flow keeps the body warm, which reduces the risk of injury while performing any asana. One can perform six to twelve rounds of sun salutations, depending on the individual's physical capability.

Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations)

2. Vrksasana (Tree Pose) - It's all about balance and concentration in this stance. While standing in Tadasana, raise the right leg, bend the right knee, and place the right foot on the insides of the left thigh. 

Raise your arms over your head and make a Namaste sign with your palms. Raise the chest and torso upwards while holding the abdominal muscles, gazing with the eyes forward. 

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Release and repeat on the left leg, bending at the knee and tucking the left foot between the right leg's inner thighs. With each leg, hold this stance for at least eight breaths.

3. Prasarita Padottanasana (Intense Leg Stretch Pose) - Face the long side of the mat while standing in the center of the mat. Place your feet apart more than your hip-width, with your feet facing forward toward the mat's long side. 

Exhale and extend your body forward, first parallel to the floor, then gently lowering and reaching for the floor with your head dropped in between both legs and your hands holding the big toes. 

Prasarita Padottanasana (Intense Leg Stretch Pose)

Maintain this position by pulling in your abdomen and extending with each breath. This pose provides a deep stretch by opening the hips and the entire leg. After a few repetitions of this pose, the hips become more flexible, which is necessary for an Extended Side Angle Pose. 

4. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) - Make sure your chest and hips face the long side of the mat. Continue standing with your feet apart as you move out from Prasarita Padottanasana. 

Bring the arms out sideways at shoulder level, place the left foot outside at 90 degrees and the right foot inside at 45 degrees, move the torso to the left, flexing the hips a little, and reaching for the left foot with the left hand. 

Now, bring the arms out sideways at shoulder level, place the left foot outside at 90 degrees and the right foot inside at 45 degrees, move the torso to the left, flexing the hips a little, and bend forward while reaching down for the left foot.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Then stretch your right arm up to your right palm. The hips, entire legs, shoulders, and arms are stretched intensely, opening your joints. Release and continue the practice on the right leg. Hold for about eight breaths with each leg.

5. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) - Come to Five Pointed Star Pose from Extended Triangle Pose. Keep the right knee above the right ankle while bending the right foot. 

Exhale and stretch your arms out parallel to the floor, while your left leg is extended behind you and your right knee is bent forward, with the right foot turned 90 degrees and the left foot at 45 degrees.

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)

This deep stretch at the knee and foot assists the practitioner with hip opening. Stay here for at least six breaths and then slowly exhale. Return to Five Pointed Star Pose, repeat the same on the other side, and feel your legs flexing. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Utthita Parsvakonasana

Step 1- Begin with Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Keep your legs around 4 feet apart. Extend your arms in a "T" shape, palms down, then extend out via your fingertips as if dragged in opposite directions.

Step 2- With your left foot, make a 90-degree turn, and with your right foot, make a small inward turn. Lift through your spine on both sides, keeping your torso elongated.

Step 3- Press your right outside foot and heel to the floor as you bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle with your left thigh parallel to the floor. Adjust your stance here to establish a sturdy foundation.

Step 4- Leaning toward your left knee and hinging at the hips, bring your left arm to the floor. For support, place your left fingertips on the ground or a yoga block, and move your left armpit close to the outside left knee, paralleling your arm and shin.

Step 5- Lift your right arm, palm facing the ground, above your right ear. To make a straight line from your right ankle to your head, turn your body towards your raised arm and press your right hip against the floor.

Step 6- Remove your attention from your right thumb. Take a deep breath and hold this pose in the same position.

Step 7- Release the posture by inhaling and reaching up, straightening your left leg, and extending your torso up. Do the same on the opposite side.

Breath Awareness: Breathing the wrong way can lead your practice towards unwanted tension and stress in the muscles, so consider the below-listed points carefully:

  • Exhale and rotate the right foot 90 degrees and the left foot 45 degrees.

  • Inhale and exhale, as the arms are stretched out, bring the chest forward, bending over the right leg, and placing the right palm on the floor near the right foot.

  • Inhale to ease and relax the body, then exhale to lower the torso. 

  • Inhale to release the right arm and place it on the right thigh as you exhale.

  • Inhale as you raise the torso while letting go of your left arm.

  • Exhale to return to Five Pointed Star Pose after complete relaxation.

  • When your left foot is at a 90-degree angle, and your right foot is at a 45-degree angle, exhale.

  • Inhale to bend your torso to the left as you go through the motions above.

  • Exhale and return to Tadasana by completely relaxing the body.

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. 

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the pose for 2 to 5 minutes. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

These cues will prevent beginners from injury while also allowing them to reap the most benefits out of this pose:

  • It's all about space in this position - To provide room for your torso to open, and lengthen both sides of your body. To prepare for this opening, fully extend your upper arm and press your supporting hand to the floor or a yoga block. You should feel a gap between your collarbones and your chest.

  • Be mindful about the lower body- As you bend, keep your knees engaged and tight for a deep stretch. The inner thighs are lengthened, the gluteal muscles are stable, and the outer leg muscles are engaged. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses Utthita Parsvakonasana

A few positions are required to allow the muscles for relaxation after the strenuous practice of Utthita Parsvakonasana. Below is a list of them:

1. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): This pose helps to relieve tension in the hips and feet by relaxing the entire lower body.

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

2. Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child's Pose): This pose allows the shoulders, chest, and inner thighs to relax. For added support, a bolster can be placed below the forehead. Remain in this position while loosening your entire upper body. 

Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child's Pose)

3. Advasana (Reverse Corpse Position): This pose allows the entire body to rest. It also enables breathing to return to a normal and controlled pace, allowing the whole body to relax. Stay here for around 14 deep breaths, paying attention to how the spine moves as you breathe.

 Advasana (Reverse Corpse Position)

Image Credits: indiatoday.in

Utthita Parsvakonasana Modifications and Props

To add elegance to your Extended Side Angle Pose practice, try some assistance. Beginners can practice Utthita Parsvakonasana with these three easy-to-do modifications: 

  • Make use of a prop. By positioning blocks close to the knee-bending foot, place the palm on the block while still expanding the chest and shoulders. 

Utthita Parsvakonasana Modifications and Props

Image Credits: almondsandasana.com

With time and practice, the legs' flexibility improves to the point that this position can be performed without using the blocks.

  • Make use of a wall. Consider using a wall for back support, this will help you attain confidence and the right alignment. Your balance will improve over time, and eventually, you will be able to perform this pose without using a wall.

Utthita Parsvakonasana Modifications and Props

  • Adjust your gaze. If glancing up causes body imbalance, glance forward or even down at the bent leg to improve balance before proceeding to the full position.

Utthita Parsvakonasana Modifications and Props

Image Credits: drweil.com

Utthita Parsvakonasana Variations to Consider

Extended Side Angle Pose can be performed with multiple variations, and you can practice any of them depending on your body's needs and capabilities. Here's a list of a few: 

1. Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Elbow Arm: Variation of Utthita Parsvakonasana Elbow Arm is a beginner's version of the Utthita Parsvakonasana, which includes the hip opening, spine twisting, and lateral extension. The support around elbows in this variation helps improve the much-needed strength, flexibility, and core balance for achieving the final posture.

Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Elbow Arm

Image Credits: yogateket.com

2. Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Namaste Hands: Variation of Utthita Parsvakonasana with hands touching together is also known as the namaste variation. Simply, find the balance in your core muscles as you perform namaste in the extended side angle pose. 

Extended Side Angle Pose Variation Namaste Hands

3. Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Bent Knee): In this pose, the "bind" refers to the way your arms wrap around your torso. "Bound Side Angle Pose," is another name for Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana. It also serves as a warm-up for standing balance poses such as Full Bound Extended Side Angle Pose.

 Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Bent Knee)

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Level-Up Poses After Utthita Parsvakonasana for Advanced Yogis

Once you have mastered the Extended Side Angle Pose with all its variations, you’re ready to perform the following level up poses, like: 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Utthita Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Variation with Arms Behind)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Bandha Utthita Parsvakonasana (Bound Extended Side Angle Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

Side Angle Variation with Arms Behind

Image Credits: yoganatomy.com

Side Angle Variation with Arms Behind

Bound Extended Side Angle Pose

Bound Extended Side Angle Pose

Revolved Side Angle Pose

Image Credits: vinyasayogaacademy.com 

Revolved Side Angle Pose

Similar Standing Poses like Utthita Parsvakonasana

Here is a list of some standing yoga poses, which are similar to Utthita Parsvakonasana's practice. Take a look below: 

  1.  Trikonasana or Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

  2.  Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)

  3.  Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)

  4.  Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)

Frequently Asked Questions about Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

What are standing poses good for?

How to do an extended side angle pose?

What are the benefits of side angle pose?

What does Parsvakonasana mean?

What are 5 standing yoga poses?

What is an extended side angle bend?

How to do a bound side angle pose in yoga?

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