Extended Side Angle Pose, Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a great pose for strengthening the legs, stretching the groin, and stimulating the abdominal organs. The pose also stretches the shoulders, and the different variations make sure that you can access the pose easily and safely.
There are, however, a few common misalignments that easily happen in this pose.
Below are five common misalignments, and easy tips on how to fix them. By being mindful you can easily avoid these pitfalls.
1. Taking the Front Knee Past the Ankle
Whether you are doing Warrior I or II Pose or Extend Side Angle Pose, it can happen that the front knee comes past the ankle. This can cause pressure to the knee, which is harmful for the knees, so always keep the knee directly over the heel.
If this is too much, you can bend the front leg a bit less, so that you stay comfortable. If you notice that the knee comes over the ankle, come back up and take a wider stance. This will give you more space for the pose.
2. Collapsing the Front Knee Inwards
If the hips are tight, the tendency is for the front knee to collapse towards the inside. This can be quite harmful and straining for the knee joint.
A good alignment tip for any pose is to always check that the toes and the knee are pointing in the same direction. To avoid this twist in the knee, turn the toes inward so that the knee is aligned. Try to have the knee aligning with the smaller toes to ensure that the hip is externally rotating.
3. Bearing Too Much Weight on the Front Arm
When we bend down and place the lower hand either on the bent leg or on a block, it's easy to start leaning a bit too much on the hand.
Sure, it gives support, but try to have the hand just lightly on the leg, or on the block instead of leaning your full upper body weight on it. The weight should be on the legs, to strengthen and stretch them.
4. Lifting the Back Heel Off the Ground
Sometimes it can be hard to keep the heel of the back foot on the ground when bending down to the pose.
If the back heel is lifting up, or if it is difficult for you to keep your balance, place your back foot against a wall. This will give you nice additional support, and you can really press the foot onto the wall as you bend down to the pose. You can also practice the pose by having your entire back side of the body next to a wall for support.
5. Top Shoulder Turning Towards the Floor
When you try too hard to have the front arm reach towards the floor, it could happen that the upper body turns towards the floor, instead of opening to the side.
Instead, try to have one straight line with your leg, hips, chest and shoulder. Open the chest towards the side, and use blocks or place your hand on your front leg to give you some additional space.
Extended Side Angle Pose comes back in many yoga classes, and as always, remember to be true to your body and how you feel. Use the version which is most accessible to you, and progress slowly from there.
Wherever you are today is just right.