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May Yoga Pose of the Month- Extended Side Angle

Pose of the month
Extended Side Angle

Utthita Parvakonasana (oo-TEE-tah PARZH-vuh-ko-NAHS-uh-nuh)

Extended side angle, is a standing pose that stretches and strengthens most of the major muscles in the body. It is great yoga tool to counteract the effects of sitting and slouching all day.

How to get into the pose:
- Start facing the long side of your mat and lift your arms up shoulder height, with palms facing down
- Step your legs out as wide apart as your wrists
- Turn your right toes to face the short edge of your mat and bend your right knee 90 degrees (so your knee is directly above your ankle)
- Keep your left foot grounded down, parallel to the back of your mat and align the right heel with the inner arch of your left foot, keeping your back leg straight
- Inhale and reach your front arm as far forward as you can, while slightly drawing the left hip forward
- Exhale and lower your right palm to the floor beside the right foot 
Inhale as you extend the left hand up towards the sky and take your gaze up to your fingers
- Keep your right knee drawing towards the right baby toe, helping to keep the right thigh externally rotated
- Press down through the outer arch of your left foot
- Hold for 5-10 breathes

To come out of the pose:
- Inhale as you press firmly into the left foot 
- Exhale as you slowly bring yourself back up to a standing position, with your arms extended shoulder height
- Slowly turn your right foot parallel to the top of the mat som both feet are pointing in the same direction with hips and shoulders square to the long edge of the mat.
- Repeat on the other side.

Modifications and Variations

If it is a challenge to keep the back foot grounded, use a wall to press the back heel into as your bend the front knee.

If your front hand does not come down to the floor use a block placed beside the inside arch of the front foot to plant your palm into (remember you have 3 heights to choose from with the blocks).

Alternatively, bring your front forearm to your thigh with your palm facing up to the sky, pressing the forearm into the thigh so you don’t collapse through the front shoulder.

To deepen the practice you can take your top arm and bring that bicep towards your top ear while you extend the hand out past your head with your palm facing down, making a nice diagonal line form your back heel out through the top fingers.

Benefits of Extended Side Angle

Strengthens the legs, knees and ankles
Energizes the body
Stretches the hips, groin, back, spine, chest and shoulders
Massages the internal organs
Increases stamina 
Improves concentration and focus
Improves posture
Relieves tension in the shoulders and neck

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