Utthita Parsvakonasana ( utthita = extended, parsva= side or flank, kona = angle)
One of the intensive Yogasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana is beneficial in:
- strengthening feet, ankles, knees and thighs, waist, sternum along with firmness in the hips and groins.
- helps with arthritic conditions of knees
- develops balance
- reducing cellulite around waist and hips.
- reinforcing the vertebral joints and toning muscles of spine.
- strengthening lung capacity for more fulfilled breathing.
- rejuvenates the cardiovascular system.
- massaging the abdominal organs
- managing pain in arms, elbows, back and neck.
Asanas might be practised in a dynamic or static fashion. While the dynamic or flow practise (often called Vinyasa) is focused on boosting the level of pranic energy in the system, static version of practise directs that energy into specific parts where ever desired. Although which style is chosen depends on individuals, it is always recommended to be fully aware of the bio mechanics and methodology of each individual asana so as to make your practice fulfilling and complete. Here we are trying to analyse one asana at a time while putting up some details on how to perform and modulate, these tips can be helpful in both the above mentioned modes of practicing.
To attain a perfect Parsvakonasana go through the following steps:
1. Attain Samsthiti (neutral position) : Samsthiti is a position where body weight is evenly balanced on all the four corners of the body, say, front and back and left & right. This is a position which makes you feel neutral in relatioship to the gravity. Legs are held firmly on to their foundations in feet while spreading the toes on the floor. Pelvis has to be centered while maintaining a natural curvature of the lower spine. (Believe me, most often we tend to intensify the lumbar curve in a bid to be firm, unknowingly). Arms will be straight and hanging out to side, while awareness being the same from shoulders to the finger tips. Shoulders will be mildly held squared while a gentle tension will be felt in the blades so as to keep the chest open. Head will be kept firm on those shoulders and gaze in front on one single point. Feel this position for a few minutes to experience the bliss of neutrality, one of the most recommended virtues of Yoga.
2. Move into utthita hastapadasana : Now there can be two ways of coming into this position. In some styles, they prefer to jump out to the sides while arms and legs moving at the same time. If you jump out then make sure you bring your arms and legs at the same time and the height to which arms have to be raise and the distance which your feet will cover has to be perfected. Otherwise you will end up feeling like a scarecrow in a corn field. The approximate distance to be covered by feet is 4 feet and arms have to be in line with shoulders while palms facing down. In some other styles, they gently move out to the sides opening the legs and raising the arms. What ever you chose, keep in mind the above angles and alignments.
- We often tend to hyperextend the elbows and knees while doing that. Please avoid. it.
- There is a very thin line of difference between firmness and hyperextension. So its better to seek for some expert advice in a live class on how to differentiate between the two.
3. Turn the right leg out to 90 degrees along with the foot and left leg to 60 degrees along with the foot (Pic 3). Now this can be challenging for beginners as when they turn the right foot out to side, the hip on the left will also tend to take a turn, due to some preexisting stiffness and lack of muscular efficiency in that part. Sacroillicac joint plays a major role in defining this. If this happens, then you can choose a few hip openers before the practise while conditioning the pelvic region for an increased range of motion. This is definitely a good idea! Also some efforts will have to be made to keep that left leg firm.
- Make sure the right heel and the middle of the left foot are aligned in one straight line so as to activate the ligaments on both sides of the spine equally, which will serve the purpose of doing it. Remember Hatha yoga is Ha+Tha, which means balancing the right and left.
4. Keeping the right leg active in the Quadricep (the big muscles of your thigh) and pulling the knee caps up, bend the right leg at 90 degrees at the knee joint. Make sure the right thigh comes parallel to the floor. Now the efforts are going to be more intense as bringing down the right thigh parallel to the floor, is something. This is restricted due to many factors, and one of them is a tight hip flexors and rigid hip extensors. Experts say that our shoulders and hips are the sensitive areas which takes most of the toll from our daily stress. And that’s what make them so rigid. So while trying to be parallel in relationship to the floor, they might retaliate and you can feel glitchy at some point. Keep working on those hips of yours extra, to achieve this. Another important thing to not is that right knee should not be going beyond the right ankle, that means it must be perpendicular to the floor. If this happens, the knee would take the extra stress and might hurt those ligaments around it while holds most of our weight. At the same time, the left leg has to be attended as the extra leaning the right might ask left knee to be unfolded, as the tension in the hips will play a role. So to keep the left leg firm, its important that you hook the left foot into the floor specially from the out edges and this has to be done with awareness running from your left foot upwards to its associations in the pelvis.
5.Exhale and put the right arm by the outer side of the right foot while keeping the fingers and toes parallel to each other. Raise the left arm up in line with the right arm. Try and expand the lateral edges of the chest fully in this position so as to avoid the shrinking of chest and neck. While coming down the torso will be persuaded to take a roll downwards and face the chest to the floor. Be firm to these allurements as these are vrittis urging you to take the easy way and avoid being firm. Try and keep the trunk facing front while opening the chest to maximum and ensure a deep breathing. You might have to engage in the ribs on the left side on the rear portion and pull them away from the sternum in order to assist this process. And then down below, keep the left pelvis open to the same direction as of the chest. It will be challenging in the beginning as the structural modalities of hip joint might prevent that. If pelvis rolls down, the spine and its associated fibers at the back will take a further roll asymmetrically and the whole process of keeping the spine even and firm will be destroyed.
- If its not possible to put the hand flat on the floor, you can form a reverse cup with your fingers and then put them on the floor
6. In the final position, bring the left arm over the left ear bringing it in a straight line with the left portion of the body. Keep the palm facing downward towards the floor. Pull the left arm and left portion of the torso up till waistline upwards towards the left fingers while channelizing the pran flow upwards. Expand the right foot fully on the floor so as to keep the posture firm and channelizing the pranic flow in the entire right portion. Turn the head upward looking towards the ceiling in the final position. Stay for at least 30 seconds in the position allowing the body to feel the asana and brain to register the impression.
Have a happy practise. Keep reading for more interesting topics!!