From Tadasana, swing the right leg back about 3 feet (Give or take. Generally a shorter stance is a bit eaasier). Turn the left toes out 90 degrees and turn the right foot forward about 45 to 60 degrees. Swivel to face the front so that the hip bones point straight forward to the front of the mat. Be sure to stay grounded through the outer right foot as you rotate the hips. The left knee should point straight forward and the quads should be engaged to keep the kneecaps stable. Squeeze the outer thighs lightly together toward the center line.
Take the left hand to the hip and reach the right arm overhead. Fold forward from the hips and extend the right arm as far out in front of you as you can to lengthen the spine, then place the right hand to the outside of the left foot with the fingers pointed forward. If this proves difficult, you can place the hand on the inside of the leg or place a block to the outside of the left foot and bring the hand to that.
Lengthen the spine, reaching the crown of the head forward. Broaden the front of the chest and bring the shoulder blades together as you twist to the left, reaching the left arm overhead. The arms and shoulders should create a straight line. Pull the left inner left groin up into the hips and press into the ball of the left foot to draw the hip back. If you feel stable enough here, look up toward the extended left hand.
Just as in Parsvottanasana, you want the hips to be both square to the front of the mat as well as at the same height. Bringing more weight into either foot lifts the hip on that side so bring enough weight into the outside of the back foot to keep the hips level. Being level and even can be a difficult thing to feel in the body. It can help to have somebody take a look at your hips here and make adjustments until you develop the sense for what being even feels like.
For those that don’t have the flexibility at the hips to come very far forward in the pose, the idea of twisting to extend the left hand up toward the ceiling will be a stretch to say the least. In this case, the left hand can rest on the sacrum and the focus should be on keeping the spine long. Don’t force the twist if it destroys the integrity of the pose. Have patience and breath. This is not an easy pose for beginners.
Stay as long as you can comfortably maintain steadiness in the breath, then repeat for the same amount of time on the second side.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!