Extended Side Angle Pose is a truly beautiful posture. Both challenging and therapeutic, this pose helps stretch and strengthen muscles you most likely do not even think about on a regular basis, and adds some much needed balance to most people’s asana practices.
Here are my top five reasons to make this posture a mainstay in your daily routine.
1. It lengthens the side waist.
If you are like most of us, you most probably spend a lot of time stretching out the front and the back of your body, and very little time stretching out your side body. Because so many yoga postures focus so much on forward or backward bending, the side body is often neglected.
Extended Side Angle Pose offers some excellent opening all the way from your heel to the tips of your fingers on your extended side—which is quite a unique sensation! Take advantage of this stretch, especially if you walk, run, or cycle often.
2. It brings awareness to the side body.
Along with opening up your side body, this pose will bring some much needed mental awareness of this area of your body. As I mentioned in the last point, if you are someone who walks, runs, or cycles on a regular basis, there is a good chance that you have some excess tension in your side body.
Extended Side Angle will help you draw your focus to your waist, outer hips, and outer thighs, which will aid in keeping this part of your body happy and healthy.
3. It strengthens the quadriceps.
The quadricep muscle of your front leg will be getting a nice strong workout as you hold this posture—especially if you are able to lift your core up and away from your leg and resist the urge to bring a lot of your weight into your front arm.
As long as you are mindful to engage your core in this pose, this will increase the weight you bring to your front leg, creating an even greater strengthening pose for yourself.
4. It opens the chest.
This posture asks you to lift and rotate your chest up toward the ceiling as you lengthen along your waist, which is awesome for creating space in your heart and across your collar bones.
This is a very welcome remedy to the continual rounding forward and collapsing of the chest most of us experience in everyday life sitting at our computers and behind the wheels of our cars all day. This opening of the chest in Extended Side Angle can feel really amazing after a long day at the office.
5. It develops endurance.
Finally, if you are game to hold this posture for 5 to 10 breaths, you will be developing some really great muscle endurance over your whole body. Both legs will be working to support your weight, your core will be active to keep you from tumbling down to the ground, and your arms will be busy extending.
There may be the temptation to relax your upper body onto your legs, or to let your back leg slack a little, but if you persevere, you will find that you get some excellent muscle conditioning work accomplished in this pose.
What is your favorite variation of Extended Side Angle Pose? What benefits do you notice when you practice this posture on a regular basis?