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5 Ways to Modify Extended Side Angle Pose

We’ve all been there. Here in the middle of your yoga class, the instructor calls out “Everyone move into your version of Side Angle Pose.”

Panic sets in!

You look around the room, some people are extending an arm overhead, some are doing a half or full bind (how the heck do they get their hands behind their back?) and there’s someone at the front of the class standing in Bird of Paradise Pose with their leg in the air!

How do you know which one is for you?

In this article, we will break down the top five variations for Extended Side Angle Pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana, and the yoga props you can use to assist you in each one.
 

 
 

Try These 5 Ways to Modify Extended Side Angle Pose:

Have fun exploring these modifications, and choose the Extended Side Angle variation that fits you best!

Here Are 10 Yoga Props That Can Enhance Your Yoga Practice
 

1. Elbow-to-Knee Side Angle Pose

Elbow to Knee

This is one of my personal faves because I can fully feel my chest and back muscles move into the pose.

Let’s Try It:

  • Standing in Warrior 2 Pose, shift your shoulders toward your front leg as you place your elbow on the inner side of your knee
  • Pull your shoulder blades back as you press into your back foot’s long edge
  • Reach your free arm straight up above your shoulder
  • After a few breaths, option to extend your top arm over your ear
  • Stay here 2-5 breaths and then repeat on side two

 

2. Hand-to-Block Extended Side Angle Pose

Hand to block

Let’s Try It:

  • In the second version of this, you’re going to place a yoga block on the inner side of your front foot. Remember that yoga blocks have 3 heights and you can use the size that fits you best
  • From the Elbow-to-Knee variation, extend the bottom elbow until your hand reaches the yoga block
  • Press into the yoga block to square the shoulders and open the top ribs
  • Stay for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the second side

 

3. Half Bound Side Angle Pose

Half Bind

If you feel you have an established foundation of Side Angle Pose, you can try a half bind. Here is a fun, alternative way to bind, which helps open up your bottom shoulder in preparation for a full bind.

Let’s Try It:

  • From the floor or a yoga block, let your bottom arm start to bend and move underneath your hamstring. The hand can stay there or move even further behind toward the glutes
  • Keep your top arm reaching away from your center and hold for several breaths
  • Repeat for the same amount of breaths on your other side. You can get there by passing through Warrior 2 Pose, Down Dog Pose or Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose to transition

 
Need a quick Down Dog refresher? Watch This Downward Facing Dog Video Tutorial
 

 
 

4. Full Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (With or Without a Strap)

Full Bind

The full bind requires a lot of shoulder mobility, so you might opt to use a yoga strap between your hands.

Tight Shoulders? Practice These 4 Yoga Poses to Increase Shoulder Mobility

Let’s Try It:

  • From the Half Bound version, move your top arm behind you while keeping your shoulders stacked
  • Let both hands catch each other (or the strap), and breathe as you shift the shoulders over the bent leg
  • Send your gaze (or drishti) forward or up to the ceiling and hold for several breaths
  • To exit, release the top arm first, then the bottom arm, and return to the unbound pose
  • Repeat on your second side

 

5. Bird of Paradise

Birds of Paradise

If you’re confidently in Full Bound Extended Side Angle Pose, you have the option to move toward Bird of Paradise Pose. This is a one-legged, fully bound standing balance, so it’s certainly an upgrade in intensity!

Let’s Try It:

  • From your Bound Extended Side Angle Pose step your feet together and parallel. Shift your weight into the unbound leg so you can lift the heel of the bound leg. Stay here or start to lift your toes
  • Engage your abs to stand and think of drawing the bound leg up into your armpit
  • Once you’re steady, extend your top knee and pull the shoulder blades back. Send your drishti forward and breathe
  • To challenge your balance even more, move your gaze in the opposite direction of the lifted leg and hold 5-10 breaths
  • To exit, bend the top knee, lower the leg till it steps on the ground and step your second leg back to return to Bound Extended Side Angle Pose
  • Repeat on your second side for 5-10 breaths

 
What Is a Drishti and How Can It Improve Your Balance In Yoga?
 
 

Enjoy Your Journey of Modifying Extended Side Angle Pose

Extended Side Angle Pose is one of my favorite shoulder and sacrum openers. I hope this breakdown brings you more clarity and confidence in your options for this pose.

As you build strength and flexibility with Utthita Parsvakonasana Pose, you’ll be able to interchange each of these five variations in your yoga practice.

Choose the one that fits you best in the moment and remember, it’s never about doing a “perfect” pose, it’s about enjoying your practice and your progression.

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