Yoga Pose of the Week: Baddha Utthita Hasta Parsvakonasana

 Genevieve Oswald in Baddha Utthita Hasta Parsvakonasana, by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

Baddha Utthita Hasta Parsvakonasana, Bound Extended Side Angle Pose

We all experience stress.  It is a fact of life.  One of the many benefits of a yoga practice is the reduction of stress as well as the reduction of tension in the body caused by stress.  Bound extended side angle pose opens up the hips, back, neck and shoulders, builds stamina, relieves lower back pain, and improves the body’s overall balance.  Ultimately, this pose is medicine for stress.

Begin with legs wide, twice the distance of your shoulders apart to start.  Turn your right toes out, lining your right heel up with your left arch.  Inhale to take your arms wide and exhale to bend deeply into your right knee. If your knee extends over your ankle, take your left foot further back on your mat to stack your knee and ankle perpendicular to the floor.

Place your right hand inside your right foot, making contact with your knee and shoulder. Place your left hand on your left hip. Inhale to gather strength into your legs by drawing your feet, shins, knees, thighs, and hips in toward one another. With strong legs, exhale to open into your chest, twisting from your navel to the left up into your head. This dynamic action in your legs and chest will create a feeling of pressure on the right arm and leg; keep that as you inhale and lift your right hand to reach under your right thigh and back toward your right hip.

Bow in and, if you have the room, take your left hand into your right. As you exhale, again, twist from your navel into your chest and head to the left as you open into the bound version of extended side angle. Hold for 5-15 breaths, exhale to unwind and release and repeat on the second side.