Finding Joy in Movement

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana/ Revolved Side Angle Pose

Note: The traditional version of revolved side angle has the back heel on the floor and one arm extended overhead. This can be difficult for most people to achieve without undue tension, so I will describe a modified version here.

Begin by coming into a high lunge with the left foot in front. Keep the right leg active and keep the tailbone gently tucked. With an exhale, lean forward and lengthen all the way from the right foot out through the crown of the head. I generally recommend spending at least a round of breath finding this length before coming into the twist. As in most twists, it is more important to find length in the spine than more rotation. Lift the back of the right knee up toward the ceiling and strongly press back through the right heel.

Begin to twist to the left, bringing your right upper arm to the outside of the left thigh. As hip flexibility increases, the thigh will move up the arm closer toward the armpit so that eventually the thigh hugs in to the torso. Don’t rush this though. If you have to lose length in the spine to get the thigh further up the arm, you have gone too far. Try and keep the hips level as you twist. Some people like to take their left hand and rotate the left thigh outward, pressing the femur toward the mat. Keeping the legs steady and engaged, bring both hands together so that the forearms create a straight line. You can gently press the palms together for a little encouragement in the twist, but let the twist originate mainly from the internal muscles of the torso. Cranking on the arms to go deeper into the twist can put the spine at risk. Be gentle.

To take it further, you can open up the arms, bringing the right hand to the floor or to a block, and reaching the left hand up toward the ceiling. For some, a bind might be available, reaching around the back with the left arm and under the left thigh with the right arm. Again, don’t try and crank your way further into your twist. Make sure to keep a focus on lengthening your spine to create space, then twisting around that space.

Because the torso is quite compressed in this pose, breathing can be more difficult. Just keep the breath as steady and even as possible. Hold for as long as feels comfortable (at least 30 seconds or so), 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!

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