Parshvakonasana Side Angle Stretch

Parshva means "flank" or "side," and kona means "angle"—hence, parshvakonasana (pronounced par-shvah-KOH-nah-sah-nah) means side angle stretch! This pose tones your legs, strengthens your knees, and lengthens your spine. It relieves back pain and sciatica problems, and stretches and strengthens the hips and stomach.

Exhale as you go into this pose, and inhale as you come out; breathe while you hold the pose.

1. Stand with your feet three to four feet apart. Point your left foot forward and turn your right foot out.

2. Bend your right knee into a right angle with the floor and lean into the stretch so that the right side of your body moves toward the top of your right thigh and your right hand reaches toward the ground beside your right foot. Don't worry about touching the floor with your hand. Concentrate on the side stretch of your body.

3. Stretch your left arm over your head so that it forms a relatively straight line with your left leg and torso. Your left palm should face downward. Look up toward your arm and feel the stretch from your toes into your fingertips. Breathe deeply.

4. Return to the mountain pose, then repeat on the other side.

5. Getting Started: The side angle stretch feels amazing first thing in the morning when your muscles really need a good stretch to wake up fully. This pose is so energizing that it might eventually replace that cup of coffee!

jf L Ouch!

In the side angle stretch, be careful not to overextend your bent knee. It should be at or nearly at a right angle to the floor. Also, don't let your back leg flop. Keep it active by pushing down on your back heel. If you don't like the smell of your armpit as you look up against your arm, well ... change deodorants! (Hey, at least you're working up a sweat!)

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