Finding Joy in Movement

Parshvakonasana/ Side Angle Pose

Begin with the feet spread out wide so that as you extend the arms out to the sides (shoulder height with the palms facing down), the feet are roughly under the hands. Turn the right foot out exactly 90 degrees and turn the back foot in slightly (the angle of the foot should match the angle of the knee, so it will vary depending upon how open your inner hips and thighs are). Make sure that the line of the right foot from middle toe through the heel just barely grazes or even slightly misses the left heel. Bend the right leg until the shin is at a 90 degree angle to the floor. Eventually, the thigh might reach parallel, but this is something to be worked toward as you gain strength, not a requirement of the pose.

On an exhale, lengthen the torso out over the right leg and place the right hand to the outside of the leg. Let the left arm reach straight up toward the ceiling. Open up the left side of the chest and shoulder and lengthen through the back leg by bringing weight into the outside of the left foot, lifting the inner arch. Turn the left palm to face the right leg, then on an inhale reach the arm overhead so upper arm comes close to touching the ear. Draw the left shoulder blade down the back and let the armpit face the side of the mat. Find a diagonal line all the way from the outside of the left foot out through the finger tips. The right palm can rest on the floor or a block, but try to stay light on that hand. This is still a standing pose, so let the legs be your base.

Lengthen the low back and open through the groins by tucking the tailbone. Try to get the right knee to reach out over the right toes by pressing the thigh into the arm. I’m actually a fan of placing the hand on the inside of the leg and using leverage to open up the inner thigh (see above picture), but traditionalists will tell you the hand should always be on the outside of the leg so that as you press the leg into the arm to keep the knee tracking over the toes, the abductors are engaged, supporting stability in the pose. True. I like both. See if you can get the right side of the waist as long as the left and lightly drop the right shoulder away from the ear by engaging the lat. The gaze should look up the length of the left arm toward the left palm. Hold the pose as long as feels appropriate.

To come up, press through the feet and let the left hand lead you back up to standing. Switch sides, staying as long here as you did on the first 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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