There aren’t many yoga poses that I don’t like (though there are plenty that I can’t do). Utthita Parsvakonasana is a particular favorite of mine. I find the extension through the side body particularly empowering, maybe because of the energetic connection from the heel all the way through the fingertips.
When I am teaching this pose I often say that the line of energy from the heel to the fingers should extend to infinity. The two main issues that interrupt the line we are looking for are:
- A bump or hump in the hip which is the result of the legs not being extended far enough apart.
- An arm that can’t or doesn’t straighten which shows in either a bent elbow or wrist.
I have always found this to be a hard pose to teach especially the extended arm because most students instinctually do the opposite of what I want them to do. It is painfully easy as a teacher to stop teaching something simply to stop repeating yourself over and over again to no avail. It is a lazy response but…
The Line of Utthita Parsvakonasana
Lately I have been teaching the pose in the following way:
- The legs should be far enough apart so that when one knee bends the thigh of that leg lowers parallel to the floor. Creating the right angle in the front leg ensures that the back leg is in the correct position. The back foot should turn in slightly between a 45 and 70 degree angle.
- With both feet evenly grounded the inner thighs should move back and apart without letting the knees roll inwards.
- Without tucking the pelvis lengthen the spine and rotate the trunk open trying to get it perpendicular to the floor without losing the deepening of the groins.
- The arm then moves in the opposite direction of the trunk with the bicep rolling up towards the ceiling deepening the cup of the arm pit.
- This is followed by a slight internal rotation of the forearm leading to extension through the fingers.
All of that should add up to a straight line built on a ton of rotation and counter rotation until energy shoots out of your fingertips.