How to Do Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Extended side angle

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Also Known As: Warrior Angle (Virabhadra Konasana)

Targets: Legs, hips, hamstrings, chest-opener

Level: Beginner

Extended Side Angle Pose is often taught in Vinyasa flow classes as part of a standing sequence, usually near the beginning of the sequence. It may be preceded by Warrior II or Reverse Warrior II and followed by Five Pointed Star or Warrior II. You might also use it to prepare for poses that have a wide groin spread, such as Bound Angle Pose or Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold Pose.

Benefits

Extended Side Angle strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, and hamstrings. It also opens the chest and shoulders, which can be beneficial if you have any stiffness in your shoulders or back.

Step-by-Step Instructions

You may begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), standing with feet together and hands at sides.

  1. Exhale and step your feet wide apart.
  2. Lift and extend your arms out horizontally from your sides, with palms down.
  3. Angle your right heel toward the center of your mat. Opinions vary on the ideal angle for the foot in relation to the ankle. Somewhere between 90 (which would be parallel to the back edge of your yoga mat) and 45 (toes pointing at the top left corner of your mat) degrees is acceptable.
  4. Bend your right knee so that your calf and thigh form a right angle with your thigh parallel to the floor.
  5. Bring your right hand inside or outside the right foot, depending on which is more comfortable. Rest on the right fingertips so that you are not dumping too much weight into your hand.
  6. Lift your left arm up straight up toward the ceiling.
  7. Open your chest and make sure your left shoulder is aligned over your right shoulder.
  8. Bring your gaze up toward your left hand.
  9. Release by pressing firmly into your back foot and exhaling as you come into a standing position with arms extended at shoulder height. Turn so feet and body face the same direction.
  1. To keep the body in balance, repeat the pose with your left foot forward.

You will need to modify these instructions accordingly if you are starting from Downward Facing Dog or Warrior II.

Common Mistakes

Knee Ahead of Ankle

You do not want your bent knee to extend farther forward than your ankle as that will put increased pressure on your knee. Try to keep your knee directly aligned with your heel. Adjust your stance so it is wider to accommodate this, or bend your leg a little less.

Knee Turning Inwards

If your knee collapses inward, which may happen if you have tight hips, it can put stress on the knee joint. Keep your toes and knee aligned, even if you need to turn your toes inward so they continue to be aligned with the knee.

Leaning on Arm

Your lower hand should be giving you a little support, but it should be a light amount. Adjust so your weight is mostly on your legs.

Heel Off of Ground

Your back heel should remain on the ground. If you find it keeps lifting, position yourself so your foot is against a wall. This will give you a little more support and allow you to press the foot into the wall.

Chest Turning Towards Floor

If your right hand does not naturally reach the floor, it's going to be difficult for you to open your chest toward the ceiling. Overreaching for the floor is what makes your chest turn downwards instead. There are a few solutions to this problem. Choose whichever variation allows you to comfortably open your chest.

  • Take a block under the forward hand. This additional height can be enough to free up the chest. Make sure that you are not resting your torso on your leg but are rather using your core strength to keep it lifted. 
  • You can also try placing your forward forearm on your forward thigh instead of bringing your forward hand all the way to the floor. Press into your forearm to keep your shoulders moving downward.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

If you have a neck problem or experience neck discomfort when you direct your gaze to your top arm, instead look to the side or even down at your mat as long as your chest remains open.

Use a block under your forward hand if your hand doesn't naturally reach the floor.

Up for a Challenge?

  • Drop your left arm over your left ear so that it points toward the front of the room. 
  • Bring your left arm behind your back. Reach your left fingertips around your right side to grasp the inside of your right thigh for a half bind. If that feels good, you can go for the full bind by lifting the right hand off the floor to meet your left hand behind your back.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your hips, knees, neck, or shoulders. It should not be done when you have a headache, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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