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Twist Yoga Poses

Revolved Side Angle Pose

This revolved variation of Utthita Parsvakonasana requires a lot of flexibility to twist so deeply and ground the back heel.

T

he universe moves in many ways: straight lines, curves, circles, ellipses, and apparently chaotic patterns. But the pattern you probably encounter most frequently and ubiquitously is the spiral. The word spiral comes from the Latin spira, meaning to coil, and coils are everywhere, says Washington, D.C. yoga teacher John Schumacher. In yoga, twists—including Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)—embody the essence of the spiral, Schumacher says.

Revolved Side Angle Pose is an intense twist. It challenges your flexibility, strength, sense of balance, and presence of mind. This pose is a powerful cleansing posture. It squeezes your abdominal organs, forcing out toxins and waste. When you release the twist, fresh blood rushes into those organs, bathing the cells with oxygen and nutrients.

This pose is part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga but it’s found in many other classes.

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Revolved Side Angle Basics

Sanskrit: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (par-ee-vrt-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna)

Pose type: Twist

Targets: Upper body

Why we love it: “When I was first cued into Revolved Side Angle Pose in a class, I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,'” says Yoga Journal senior editor Renee Schettler. “With tight hips and IT band issues, I couldn’t comprehend how my anatomy could stretch to extend in all those different manners in the same moment. That was years ago, and the posture’s intense lengthening and twisting still demand more of me than I sometimes think I can give. Yet that challenge teaches me about my tendency to hold my breath and that creates tension and that, in turn, isn’t exactly helpful. A teacher once taught me to not only bring awareness to the breath but to think less about how I think the pose should look and more on how the pose should feel. In Revolved Side Angle, I simply look to create space. In the breath. And in the body by extending and expanding in opposing directions—heel to head, hand to hand.”

Pose benefits

Because it massages and stimulates your abdominal organs, Revolved Side Angle can improve digestion and relieve constipation. It can also help ease low backache and sciatica. This pose also strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, ankles, groin, spine, chest, and shoulders.

Revolved Side Angle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Stand in Tadasana. As you exhale, step or lightly jump your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees and turn your left foot slightly in. Align your heels.
  2. Turn your right thigh outward. The center of your kneecap should be in line with the center of your right ankle.
  3. Exhale and turn your torso to the right until you’re facing directly out over your right leg. At the same time, lift your left heel off the floor and spin onto the ball of your foot.
  4. Exhale again and bend your right knee. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Press your left thigh toward the ceiling and extend through your left heel.
  5. With another exhale, turn further to the right. Lean your torso down, placing your left hand on the floor inside your right foot. Lean your torso back slightly, away from your inner thigh. Stay in this position for a few breaths.
  6. If you want to go further in this pose, bend your left elbow and bring it to the outside of your right knee. Press your knee and elbow against each other. If possible, straighten your left elbow and reach your hand toward the floor (if you can’t reach the floor, support your hand on a block). You can keep your right hand on your hip, or stretch it over the back of your right ear with your palm facing down. Then turn your head to look at your right arm.
  7. Lengthen and soften your belly, extend your spine with each inhalation, and increase the twist as you exhale. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, exhale to release the twist. Reverse your feet and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.

Beginner’s tip

  • Beginners often have difficulty maintaining their balance in this pose, especially with the back heel lifted off the floor. To improve your balance, support your heel, either by standing it on a sandbag or thick book, or by bracing it against a wall.

Teaching Revolved Side Angle

If your students are able to keep their back heel on the floor, remind them to rotate their back foot in more than they would for most other standing poses, about 45 to 60 degrees.

Be mindful!

If you have neck problems, don’t turn your head to look at the top arm; instead look straight ahead with the sides of the neck lengthened evenly, or look down at the floor. You may want to avoid Revolved Side Angle if you have a headache, high or low blood pressure, or insomnia.

Revolved Side Angle Variation

Want additional Revolved Side Angle variations? Join Outside+ today for other expressions of this classic twist.

Preparatory Poses

High Lunge

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Bharadvaja’s Twist

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Follow-up Poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya)

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