Pose of the Week: Utthita Parsvakonasana

This week’s pose is Utthita Parsvakonasana. Utthita = Extended, Parsva = side or flank, Kona = angle, and Asana = Pose/Posture.

So it’s Extended Side Angle Pose. It’s a standing pose.


Image: BKS Iyengar in Utthita Parsvakonasanain Light on Yoga(1966)

In Light on YogaBKS Iyengar gives the following instructions for Utthita Parsvakonasana:

“Stretch every part of the body, concentrating on the back portion of the whole body, especially the spine. Stretch the spine until all the vertebrae and ribs move and there is a feeling that even the skin is being stretched and pulled.” (p.44)

 You may notice he uses the word ‘stretch’ 3 times in the instructions. 

But does having a ‘good stretch’ constitute doing a yoga asana?

 A stretch is something that is done externally; done on the outside. When you are involving yourself in a yoga pose you are experiencing it internally. Creating space internally. Even though you’re aiming to lengthen and extend your arms, legs, spine and torso you are doing it with a conscious connection to the whole of your being.

 Yoga can be viewed as mindfulness in action. Throughout the mindfulness practice of a sequence of poses (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana), the awareness and attention to body, mind, and the present moment is raised and sustained. Your experience will be different to those around you, so it’s a subjective practice. It is also non-competitive as it’s not about reaching a specific external outcome. What you’re really learning is techniques to foster resilience for accepting adversities in life. 

For some life’s adversities may be a medical condition or illness. There have been many clinical studies carried out on the effects of yoga on groups suffering from a specific condition or disease. One particular study was carried out in 2016 on individuals suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. This study compared the effect of stretching and resistance training verses the practice of yoga. 

“Through the regular mindfulness practice of yoga, a person can redefine the experience of pain, disability, or difficulty, thereby promoting one’s acceptance of disability and continual functioning beyond physical restraints and vulnerable conditions. Therefore, a yoga intervention is hypothesized to help a person with Parkinson’s Disease to explore one’s self-boundaries, redefine their illness experience, and self-transcend to attain a sense of wellbeing even in the vulnerable Parkinson’s Disease trajectory”

“These findings support the hypothesis that yoga intervention can help Parkinson’s Disease individuals to improve their psychological wellbeing and change their perception of affliction.”



Yoga Therapy Course starts next week on Wednesday at 8pm (5 week course). This is course designed specifically for those who are looking for supported asanas due to limited mobility due to age, arthritis, joint problems, obesity and injury. 

See you on the mat 🙂

Learn Yoga in Newport with us. Understand what Iyengar Yoga is and how it influences our teaching methodology