Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Revolved Side Angle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


The Revolved Side Angle Pose is Utthita Parsvakonasana with a serious twist. It increases your flexibility in the hips and lower back. Here the key is to plant that back heel as strongly as you can to maintain your balance.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations Partnering

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

(Pronounced as "par-ee-vrit-tah PARSH-vah-cone-AHS-anna")

The Sanskrit word parivrtta means to "turn around or twist," while parsva means "side," and kona means "angle."

How to do Revolved Side Angle Pose

Step One

Stand tall on your mat in Tadasana. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, jump your feet apart as wide as you can. Lift up your arms in line with your shoulders, stretching the hands out away from each other with the palms facing down. Turn your right foot 90 degrees out to the right side and turn your left foot about 60 degrees to the right. Look down and adjust your feet so that you could draw a straight line between your heels on the floor. Straighten both of your legs. Both of your thighs should slightly turn out and away from the pelvis.

Step Two

Put your hands on your hips. Lift your left heel off the floor and spin on the ball of your left foot so that your hips and torso now face the right side. Bend your right knee down to form a 90 degree angle between your thigh and your calf muscle. Keeping your left leg slightly bent, stretch back through your left heel while keeping the left heel off of the floor.

Step Three

Take a breath. Now as you exhale, extend your left arm forward as far you can and twist your torso to the right, pressing your right hand into your right hip to help you twist deeper. Bring the back of your left armpit against the outside of your right knee as you press your left hand into the floor next to your right foot. Your left hand should make contact with the floor on the outside of your right foot. Continue twisting to the right as you reach your right arm over your right ear, extending the fingers of your right hand forward.

If you cannot reach the floor with your left hand, then you can place a yoga block underneath your left hand.

Step Four

At the same time that your torso is lengthening to the right side, you should push back through your left heel. Try to extend the left heel down as close to the floor as possible, gradually straightening your left leg. Turn your head up to gaze at your right hand. Visualize yourself forming a straight line that runs diagonally upward through your left heel, your left leg, your hips and your extended right arm above your head. Twist a little more every time you exhale. Lengthen your spine a little more on each inhalation.

Step Five

Hold this position for 30 seconds. You can gradually increase the duration to a minute after you've had more practice in the future. To come out, straighten your right leg and raise your arms. Turn to the left side and repeat all these steps, holding the pose for the same amount of time on your left side.

Beginner's Tip:

If you struggle to maintain your balance in this posture, then brace your back heel against a wall so that only the heel touches the wall. If you need more support to balance, then you can also practice this posture against the wall as well. To do this, start by facing the wall. As you bend to the side to come into the pose, you will twist your torso to face away from the wall so that you can lean your back into the wall as you twist.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  • Headaches related to neck strain
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Knee injuries less than 3 months old
  • Pregnancy
  • For chronic neck problems: Instead of turning your head to look up at your arm, you can look straight in front of you or gaze down at the floor.

Modifications and Props:

Another way you can come into a deeper twist when you first start learning this pose is by practicing half of it at a time. For example, after you bend the front knee, then you can stretch the back leg back as far as you can, bend the back leg and place the back knee on the floor. Then continue the pose by twisting your torso and stretching the arm above you as described earlier. Once you have fully twisted yourself, then practice lifting the knee of your back leg up off the floor and straightening the back leg.

Deepen the Pose:

Students with more experience should try to press their back heel continuously on the ground while holding this pose. Once that becomes easy for you, then focus on deepening your twist so that your upper arm stretches back behind your ear and the upper side of your torso completely faces the ceiling.

Therapeutic Applications:

  • Difficult bowel movements or constipation
  • Chronic troubles in the reproductive organs
  • Lower backache
  • Sciatica pains

Benefits

  • Builds strength in the thighs and knees
  • Relieves tension in the lower back
  • Increases circulation to the abdominal organs
  • Boosts digestion and helps promote healthy bowel movements

Variations

You can focus more on the twisting action in this pose by adding the Namaskar Mudra, or salutation pose to it. Perform all of the steps to come into the pose but pause before stretching your arm over your head. Now lift your bottom hand up from the floor so that just your elbow presses into your bent knee. Bend your upper arm down and bring your palms together into Namaskar Mudra with your thumbs near the center of your chest. Continue pressing your elbow against your knee to deepen the twist as you hold this pose.

Partnering

Ask a partner to help you lengthen your spine in this pose. Go ahead and perform the pose as usual. They should stand in front of your extended arm. Ask them to grab the right hand you've extended over your head and gently pull on your right hand.

While they are lightly tugging your right hand, you should resist their pulling by pressing back hard through your left heel on the floor. Next your partner can also rotate your upper arm so that instead of the arm leaning toward the front of your face, they can pull your arm back behind your ear. They should turn your arm so that you open your shoulder and expand your chest.

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