This is a wonderful, delicious, energising pose that is a fundamental pose to practice regularly. It allows you to get a good side stretch, lengthen your spine and just shake out all the stagnant energy you’ve accumulated. It’s also one of the poses in the standing Primary series 1 of Ashtanga yoga.
Utthita = extended
Parsva = side, flank
Kona = angle
How to do
It’s important to make sure that you don’t slouch into the pose nor over extend your back that it creates a ‘banana back’ while in the pose. The idea is to extend sideways that you have a tight, open torso that neither curves in or bends backwards. Also, stop at the level that gives you the most stretch. So if that level is you with your arms resting on your thigh, just be present there. There is no need to get into the full bind.
If you are tight around the hips you might want to use a yoga brick or a couple of books to give you enough height to place your hands on the ‘ground’. Also, I’ve noticed that when the legs start burning and getting tired, we tend to raise the hips so give the front leg a bit of relief. It’s tempting to do so, but try as much as possible to lower the hips and give the legs a good workout. This pose really helps to build strength in the legs!
It is also important to establish a firm foundation in the legs before anything else. You should have a firm balance without having to use your hand on the ground as support. Aside for prepping you for balance in more difficult poses, this again helps build leg strength and creates a firm foundation.
This is a great pose for those suffering from menstrual discomfort, constipation, low backache and sciatica. It is also said to help with infertility and osteoporosis. However, for these conditions please only proceed after consulting your doctor.
If you have been having neck issues, don’t turn your head up to look at the hand, instead keep the neck looking forward or even looking down. Also, proceed with caution (or not at all) if you have insomnia, a headache or high or low blood pressure.
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