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What’s wrong with this yoga pose? Extended Side Angle

January 22, 2013

Welcome to a new series dedicated to yoga postures. We’ll discuss action, form, and alignment so you can learn on the mat (when you practice) and off the mat (when you read here) about the postures.

What’s wrong with this yoga pose?

Parsva Konasana Bad

I’ll let you in on a yoga teacher’s secret: Extended Side Angle or Utthita Parsva Konasana is one of the most commonly misunderstood and mis-practiced poses. And it’s usually taught to beginners although it’s quite challenging and complex.

Why? It requires strength and flexibility of the legs, understanding of proper alignment of the spine, shoulder stability and arm extension, pada bandha, mulha bandha…the list goes on and on.

So let’s stick to basics and answer: what’s wrong with this pose?
1. Start with the feet. The inside arch of the back foot is a bit collapsed and angled out. She’s going to lose good footing.
2. The crutch. It’s all too common to lean onto that front elbow when not using legs and core strength. She might hurt her back.
3. Spinal slouch. Because of the elbow crutch, her spine is not at a nice diagonal extension and instead it’s arched sideways, like a crescent. Ouch, more potential lower back aches.
4. Helpless head. Her head isn’t lined up with the spine. She looks tired.
5. Lazy arm. The top arm has lost all it’s zest for life. She’ll lose the power of the pose.

Here’s how to do a Powerful Parsva Konasana

Parsva Konasana Good
1.Root the back foot. Firmly press down through your back foot while engaging your inner thigh to avoid a collapsed arch. She’s now got a good foundation through her back leg.
2. Get off the elbow. Isometrically pull both heels towards one another like you’re squeezing a beach ball between your legs. That way you can rest lightly on the elbow instead of using it as a crutch.
3. Align the spine. Imagine having an even number of wrinkles in both sides of your shirt. That way you’re long on both sides of the waist and avoiding the crescent spine.
4. Lift the head. In line with the extension of the spine. See how much more confident she looks?
5. Extend through the arm. Imagine little lightening bolts of energy shooting out through each finger. See how happy and powerful her pose looks?

∞ What are your challenges in this pose?
Do you love it or hate it?
What pose do you want to see next in “What’s Wrong with This Yoga Pose?”

Thank you to my lovely and brave yogini Sarah J for posing today.


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