Utthita Parsvakonasana (pronounced oo-TEE-tah parch-vah-cone-AHS-ana) is a stretch that will be felt from the toes to the tips of the fingers, and everywhere in between — from the ankles and calves, knees, and thighs, hips and waist, as well as the diaphragm and all the organs attached to it. The term “utthita” means extended; “parsva” means side; and “kona” means angle.

How to Practice

Begin in mountain pose (tadasana). Step your feet about 4 feet apart (maybe more if you are long legged), while lifting your arms straight out to your sides, palms down. Rotate the right foot 90 degrees while bending the leg so that it eventually assumes a 90 degree angle as well. The back leg will remain straight with pressure on the outside half of the foot, as the weight of the body moves forward over the front leg. This is your balance point — so don’t move past 90 degrees with your front knee bend and don’t relieve the pressure on the outer half of your back foot and smallest toes.

Now, the right hand will move to the floor, stopping palm down on the floor or on a block beside your foot. The right arm is along side the calf on the right leg. The left arm stretches over the head — which is turned upward so your gaze looks beyond the left arm towards the sky. Your back left leg and your stretched out left arm will form one long 45 degree plane. Hold long enough to concentrate on a few full breaths, breathing gently through areas of stress and strain. Repeat on the opposite side.

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