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The Beginner’s Guide to Utthita Parsvakonasana

Yoga, as a form of exercise, is one of the oldest and most popular. It is surrounded by mysticism and doctors from all over the world have acknowledged its health and psychological benefits. Yoga is a difficult art form, and has a number of steps and instructions that must be followed, or else you will end up doing more harm to your body than good.

One of the more difficult poses is called Utthita Parsvakonasana, or simply the Extended Side Pose. It is considered as a follow up to the Virabhadrasana II pose, also known as the Warrior pose.

What is Utthita Parsvakonasana?

It is a form of asana or a yoga pose that consist of two parts. The entire name, in Sanskrit word, comes from utthita, which means "extended", parsva which means "side ", kona which means "angle”, and finally, the word asana which means a particular posture.

How to do the Utthita Parsvakonasana?

The Utthita Parsvakonasana is a powerful and beneficial pose, but it needs to be done in the right manner for the best results. Below is a step by step guide as to how to get the perfect Utthita Parsvakonasana pose:

  • Step 1: Since it is a follow up pose per se, you should start with the Tadasana. When you exhale, gradually move your feet almost 4 feet apart from each other and stand with your hands extended out, parallel to the floor with the palms facing the floor.
  • Step 2: Turn out both of your feet to the right, almost at 90 degrees so that both of your heels are aligned. Now slowly turn the right thigh outwards so as to align the centre of the kneecap is in line with the centre of the right ankle. As you slowly roll your right hip outwards, you have to bend your back to the left.
  • Step 3: Very slowly anchor the heel of your left feet to the floor firmly, and lift the inner left thigh muscles into the pelvis. As you do this, slowly exhale through your nose and bend your right knee, so as to put your right thigh perpendicular to the floor.
  • Step 4: Make sure that your shoulder blades are firm. Now extend your left hand upwards and turn it so that your palm is facing your head. Try to reach this arm over the back of your ear, while the palm is still facing the floor.
  • Step 5: Stretch the left section of your body, from the toes to the tip of your fingers as much as you can. Then slowly turn your head to the left and release your shoulder, trying to stretch your right side as much as possible without hurting yourself.
  • Step 6: Remember to keep breathing, and attempt to align your upper torso as close as possible with your right thigh. Attempt to place your palm flat on the floor, and stick your thigh against the inside of your right arm. If you have balance problems, then push in your buttocks to focus on your centre of gravity.
  • Step 7: Inhale slowly and with delicate movements, exert pressure on both heels so that you can push your torso upwards and reach your arms out. Once you reach your original position, you can follow the same instructions for the left side of your body and hold the pose for at least one minute.

What problems do beginners face and how to modify them?

  • Beginners usually have problems planting their heels firmly on the floor. The best way is to first use the support of a wall and gradually learning to do it, so that you can place your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Flexibility may be a problem. It is suggested that you stretch first, so that your body does not remain as stiff and also so that you can avoid post-asana muscle pain and cramps.

Can you make any modifications to this asana?

Every asana depends on the comfort level of a person, so yes, you can make a few modifications to make things a little easier on your body:

  • Instead of doing it alone, you can take help from a partner during the initial steps.
  • You can also use props to hold your position so that you can find your centre of gravity and not fall down.
  • You can perform the Utthita Parsvakonasana by placing your lower arm in front of your bent thigh.

Who should try the Utthita Parsvakonasana?

Basically, it is advised that people from any age group can try the Utthita Parsvakonasana because it has a number of health benefits, and it is even better if you try it from an early age. However, it is particularly helpful for individuals who are suffering from any of the following problems:

  • Constant headaches or migraines
  • Infertility problems
  • Menstrual cramps or unnatural menstrual pain
  • Constipation, indigestion or gastric ulcer

What are the health benefits of Utthita Parsvakonasana?

Like most asana poses, it helps the body in more than just one way. The Utthita Parsvakonasana:

  • It improves blood circulation in the organs of the lower abdomen, which improves digestion and prevents other stomach problems.
  • Since it improves blood flow to the lower section of the body, it helps decrease menstrual cramps and pain.
  • This pose involves the twisting of the spine, which helps reduce the tension in the spine and the knots in the lower back of the shoulder.
  • The Utthita Parsvakonasana helps strengthen the muscles of the calves, ankles as well as the thighs.
  • The lung capacity as well as functioning of the heart is improved, leading to a healthier heart, since it involves the twisting of the upper half of the body.
  • This asana helps improve your overall posture, which in turn, prevents breathing problems, which come with old age.
  • Lastly, it helps improve your stamina, strength as well as ability to focus and concentrate.

Who cannot do the Utthita Parsvakonasana?

As such, there are no rules dictating that anyone with any disorder or physical problem should not do the Utthita Parsvakonasana, but yes, physicians and yoga experts advise that the people with the following problems exercise precaution and consult a professional before trying it out by themselves:

  • People who have a case of chronic insomnia.
  • People who have a constant high blood pressure or hypertension.
  • Individuals who suffer from spondylitis or any other neck problems.
  • People suffering from osteoporosis of bone degeneration issues.
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