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Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) is all about the extension: in your arms, your legs, and your stance. In this challenging and invigorating posture, you’ll feel a stretch from the outer heel of your foot to your fingertips. Your oblique muscles are worked while the rib cage opens, encouraging you to breathe ever deeper.
Extended Side Angle Pose invites both presence and engagement. “Yoga teaches you to align your body to be vertical and upright,” says certified yoga therapist Nikki Costello. “But it’s equally important to expand horizontally so that your awareness can move from your inner space toward universal space. A simple side stretch expands your sense of self. When you open horizontally, you feel more spacious, and the inside and outside—the Self and the other—no longer feel so separate.”
Extended Side Angle Pose basics
Sanskrit: Utthita Parsvakonasana
Pose Type: Standing Balance
Targets: Lower Body
Why We Love It: “When a teacher first cued me to glide my arm across my chest and pull back my shoulder blades to keep my arm above my ear, everything clicked,” says Kyle Houseworth, Yoga Journal‘s assistant editor. “I felt myself locking into the pose and breathing through the deep stretch in my side body. Extended Side Angle Pose is a reminder that our practices are fluid yet firm, playful yet particular—we flow through the movements while remaining strong in the postures. I imagine myself strumming a guitar while persevering through discomfort. It brings a smile and a deep breath, and I couldn’t ask for anything more in a pose.”
Extended Side Angle Pose improves balance, boosts energy, and fights fatigue. It improves posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and doing computer work, and may help build confidence and a sense of empowerment.
Become a member today to access Yoga Journal’s comprehensive Pose Library, which blends expert insights from top teachers with video instruction, anatomy know-how, variations, and more for 50+ poses, including Extended Side Angle Pose. It’s a resource you’ll return to again and again.
Extended Side Angle Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Jump your legs about 4 feet apart. Extend your arms into a T position, with your palms facing down; reach out through the fingertips as if your arms were being pulled in opposite directions.
- Turn your left foot out to 90 degrees, and turn your right foot slightly inward. Lift through your spine, keeping the sides of your torso equally long.
- Press your right outer foot and heel to the floor as you bend your left knee toward a 90-degree angle with your left thigh parallel to the floor. Adjust your stance to establish a strong foundation.
- Lean toward your left knee, hinging at the hips to bring your left arm own toward the floor. You may place your left fingertips to the ground or on a block. Move your left armpit close to the outer left knee so your arm and shin are parallel.
- Reach your right arm up over your right ear, palm facing the floor. Turn your chest toward your raised arm and press the right hip toward the floor to create a straight line from your right ankle to you
- Turn your head to look past your right thumb. Breathe freely in the pose. Stay for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Inhale reach up then bring your torso up and straighten the left leg. Switch sides.
To engage your feet, place the outer heel of your straight leg against a wall while you practice to help you press down through your outer foot.
Teaching Extended Side Angle Pose
These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- This pose is all about space. Lengthen along both sides of your body to create space for the torso to open. Prepare for this opening by pressing your supporting hand to the floor or a block and fully extending your upper arm. You should feel an opening across your collarbones and chest.
- As you bend one leg, extend the other, keeping your knees firm. These dual actions lengthen the inner thighs and stretch the gluteal muscles while strengthening the outer leg muscles and stabilizing the hips.
Variation: Extended Side Angle Pose with forearm on thigh
If you can’t easily touch the fingertips of your lower hand to the floor, rest your forearm on the top of the bent-knee thigh. Press down into the thigh with your forearm to prevent your bottom shoulder from crowding your neck.