When in the pose, one must tune out all outside distractions, and focus on the flow of breath. Take in slow deep breaths, and release all your anxieties and frustrations. Your mind must only focus on your alignment when attempting the pose, in order to reap all the benefits of this pose. Your mind should be free from thought, but aware of your surroundings.
Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union—the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions. ~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala
Parsvakonasana is usually termed as Utthita Parsvakonasana or extended side angled pose. This asana is highly useful in stretching the body parts that are not usually fully stretched. This is one of the beginning asanas but you have to practise this slowly in the beginning until your body becomes accustomed to stretch fully without any strain.
- Parsvakonasana can be started from Tadasana or the mountain pose. You should stand straight with palms of both hands facing outward and both feel adjacent to one another.
- You should exhale slowly while separating your feet until they are separated by about three feet distance.
- You should now raise your hands so that they are at the sides fully stretched and parallel to the floor. In this position, your shoulders should remain wide, the feet should be kept apart and the palms facing down.
- You should slightly turn your left foot towards the left side, while the right foot still faces forward.
- You should turn the left thigh inwards until the ankle and the center of your left knee of your left foot are in a straight line.
- You should then turn the hip slightly towards your left leg but your chest should remain straight.
- You should bend the left knee over your left ankle while inhaling, so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
- The left thigh should also remain parallel to the ground with the right leg remaining straight and stretched fully from hip to ankle.
- You should now extend and stretch the right hand above your head on the left side of your body, with the palm facing the ground and remaining straight. The hand should be touching your right ear.
- You should turn your face slowly inward to look at your palm. The other hand should be touching the ankle of your left leg without taking any support from the ankle or the shoulder. The purpose of Parsvakonasana is to stretch as much towards the right side of your body as possible without feeling any discomfort.
- You should push your extended hand towards the ceiling forcefully, while inhaling and exhaling. You can do this stretching a few times and then return back to standing position.
- You should repeat the same steps with the right leg.
You can use the wall to vary the posture of the asana. You can bend your arm towards the knee and the ankle instead of using the hand. This variation will stretch the inner thigh and groin to a higher degree. Another major variation of Parsvakonasana is Parivrtta Parsvakonasana or resolved side angle posture. This asana is not for beginners and hence you should practise this only after you are perfect with Utthita Parsvakonasana. In this pose, you should exhale and stretch your hand until you are able to place it on the ground next to your leg, instead of touching the ankle position in Parsvakonasana. You should twist your body and chest slightly towards both sides to increase the stretch.
Parsvakonasana stretches out several parts of your body and helps in stretching the muscles of legs, ankles, hips, groin, abdomen, lungs, chest, shoulders and spine. The knees, legs and ankles get strengthened. Parsvakonasana enhances overall stamina by stimulating the abdominal organs. Parsvakonasana is helpful in constipation, infertility, chronic back pain, weak backs, osteoporosis and discomfort during menstruation period. It is also a very good remedy for highly painful inflammation of the sciatica nerve.
You should not do Parsvakonasana if you have problems of insomnia, headaches or other conditions directly related to hypertension or high blood pressure. You should skip looking at your palm of your extended hand, if you have neck problems or neck pain, but should look straight while practicing this asana.
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