Yoga - Utthita Parsvakonasana
by B.K.S. Iyengar
'Utthita' in Sanskrit means extended, 'parsva' means side and 'kona' means angle. So this asana is the extended lateral angle pose.
Stand in Tadasana. Take a deep inhalation and with a jump spread the legs sideways 4 - 4½ feet. Raise the arms sideways in line with your shoulders. Palms facing down.
While exhaling slowly, turn the right foot out 90 degrees to the side and the left foot slightly turning in towards the right. Bend the right leg at the right knee until the thigh and the calf form a right angle and the right thigh is parallel to the floor. Do not bend the left leg which is stretched out and tightened at the knee.
Place the right palm down outside the right foot, the right armpit touching the outer side of the right knee. Stretch the left arm over the left ear and the head up looking at the extended left arm.
Move the chest up and back so the hips and legs are in a line. Stretch the spine until the vertebrae and ribs move and there is a feeling of the skin being pulled and stretched as well.
Remain in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing normally. Inhale and lift the right palm from the floor.
Inhale and straighten the right leg and come up in the initial position.
Repeat the posture on the left side.
Exhale and jump back to Tadasana.
With Wall and Block Support
Those of you who find it difficult to stay in classical Utthita Parsvakonasana can do the pose against the wall as it helps to maintain proper alignment, and also reduces the body's fatigue guiding you to make correct adjustments.
Stand in Tadasana with your left side of the body facing the wall. Keep the outer edge of the left heel touching the wall and then spread your legs 4 to 4½ feet. Ensure that both the feet are in a straight line. Turn the right foot out along with the leg to the right side maintaining the contact of the left heel against the wall.
With an exhalation, bend at the right knee such that a right angle is formed between the right thigh and the right knee. While doing this, ensure that the outer edge of the left heel remains in firm contact with the wall. If the contact is lost then too much weight is felt on the right side of the body.
Place a wooden block/brick about 3 to 6 inches in height by the outer side of the right foot.
Extend the hands sideways, palms facing the floor.
With an exhalation, place the right palm on the block/brick. The height of the block should be adjusted in such a manner that palm can comfortably reach the block; and the side of the chest on the right remains facing the floor. If the block is too low, the front of the chest may tilt towards the floor making breathing heavy, a clear indication that the posture has not been done correctly.
Take the left hand straight up and then over the head. Make sure that the upper arm remains in line with the head and the head in line with the chest. If the arm tilts forward then the chest also tilts. Keep your eyes gazing at the outstretched left palm.
Stay in this asana for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, with an exhalation, straighten the left arm, perpendicular to the floor, lift the right palm off the block and then come up.
Repeat the posture on the left side.
As one improves in one's practice, one can reduce the height of the block so that finally one can place the palm down on the floor. But always make sure that the weight is evenly distributed between both the legs and that the chest does not tilt towards the floor but remains perpendicular to the wall.
Relaxes the feet as it improves circulation there.
Strengthens the legs, so that they will be able to bear the body weight without strain.
Strengthens and extends the para-spinal muscles and ligaments, keeping the spine supple and well aligned.
Corrects the deformities in the shoulder and shoulder blades and relieves backaches.
Helps to relieve gastritis, acidity and flatulence.
Extends and tones the pelvic organs.
Reduces fat around the waist and hips and relieves sciatic and arthritic pains.
If you are a new practitioner, do not practice the asana for more than 20 to 30 seconds. Gradually increase the duration of the asana to a minute.
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, do not look at your raised arm, instead look down at the floor.
If you experience some neck strain, consciously soften the neck muscles.
Maintain normal breathing.
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