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Side Angle Pose (parsvakonasana)

Standing posture that stretches along the sides of your body.
 

Side Angle Pose (or parsvakonasana) provides an intense stretch along the sides of your body, with an emphasis on stretching the sides of your waist and rib cage. You can practice this pose to strengthen and increase the flexibility of your hips, legs and ankles. This pose also opens your chest, which can help increase your lung capacity.
 
As you perform Side Angle Pose, keep your front knee over your ankle and the outer edge of your back foot in contact with the floor. Even though your weight will fall mostly on your front foot in this pose, try to center your weight as much as possible.
 
Proper body alignment is important in this pose. Keep your spine straight and your head, shoulders and hips on the same plane. To help align your body correctly, you can perform the pose with your back against a wall.
 
You should be very careful performing Side Angle Pose if you have lower back problems. If you have a stiff neck, do not look up at the ceiling in the pose.
 
Steps:
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Step your right foot to the right approximately 3 feet.
Turn your left foot in 45 degrees and then turn your right foot out 90 degrees.
(Make sure your right heel is aligned with the middle of your left foot.)
Inhale as you raise your arms up to shoulder height, with your palms facing down. Your arms and shoulders should be relaxed.
Bend your right knee until it is over your right ankle.
Exhale as you bend your torso to the right and place the palm of your right hand on the floor outside your right foot.
(Make sure your left leg is straight and the outer edge of your left foot is in contact with the floor.)
Stretch your left arm over your head, keeping your left shoulder back.
Turn your head and look at the ceiling, keeping your spine straight and your neck relaxed.
Hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds.
To come out of the pose, press your right foot into the floor and then inhale as you lift your right palm off the floor and straighten your right leg. Then return to Mountain Pose.
Repeat steps 2 to 10 for your other side.
 
I cannot place my palm on the floor in Side Angle Pose. What can I do?
Unless you are very flexible, it may be difficult for you to place your palm on the floor in this pose. Try placing your palm on the inside of your front foot instead of the outside. You can also touch the floor with your fingertips instead of your palm. If you still cannot reach the floor, position a block on the outside of your front foot and then rest your palm on the block.
 
I feel strain in my legs and lower back while performing this pose. How can I modify the pose to reduce the strain?
To reduce the strain in your legs and lower back, you can place your elbow on your front thigh, with your forearm parallel to the floor, instead of placing your palm on the floor. Resting your elbow on your thigh can also help you maintain proper body alignment.
 
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