Monday, December 22, 2014

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Extended Side Angle Pose

Move into Extended Side Angle Pose, Utthita Parsvakonasana, in order to create strength in the core, legs, hips, and ankles, while stretching the muscles of the spine, waist and shoulders. “Utthita” in Sanskrit, means extended, “parsva” means side and “kona” means angle. Enjoy the sensations of a full, side-body stretch, as you create length in the spine, expansion in the chest, while building strength and endurance in the body.

To move into Extended Side Angle Pose: First move into Warrior II Pose. Step the feet 3 ½ to 4 feet apart. On an inhale breath, open the arms wide like wings. Pivot your right foot forward, while leaving the back foot flat to a 90 degree angle. Align the front heel with the arch of the back foot.

On an exhale breath, bend the front knee and bring the gaze forward, over the right middle finger. Align the front knee over the ankle. If the knee if extending out in front of the ankle, walk the front foot forward so that the knee and ankle are in one straight line. It is important to stack the knee over the ankle in order to protect the knee.

Ground down evenly through both feet and press into the knife edges of both feet and lift through the inner arches of the feet. Align the shoulders over the hips and draw the shoulder blades down the back. Draw the low-belly in and lengthen the tailbone towards the heels. Find the balance of ease and effort in the pose while “softening” in the posture with the breath.

To find extension in Side Angle Pose: On an inhale breath, lengthen the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. On an exhale breath, reach the right fingers forward and extend the torso  forward, towards the front of the room, with the palm facing downward. Drop the forearm to the right thigh and extend the left fingers up towards the ceiling. Option to reach the fingers forward towards the front of the room, bringing the left bicep near the left ear.
Leave the forearm resting on the thigh or reach the right finger to the inside or outside of the foot (traditional is on the left side of the foot). Use a block for support on the ground to the inside or outside of the right foot in order to find proper alignment and support while in the pose. The gaze can stay neutral towards the side of the room or lift the gaze towards the palm. Find a comfortable position for the neck.

If the forearm is resting on the front thigh, do not rest the weight of the torso on the thigh, rather, use the strength in the core to support your weight while creating more extension of the spine and length through both sides of the body.

Option to extend both arms forward for more of a challenge and opportunity to build strength in the core.

Check-in with the breath. Notice if the breath is flowing smooth and steady. Notice if the mind is wandering. If the mind has wandered off or seems distracted, come back to focusing on the breath.

Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full-rounds of breath. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales.

To come out of the pose: slowly begin to bring the torso back upright and bring the arms back to your sides. Straighten the right leg and pivot the right foot back to neutral. Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side. Take the same variation as you did on the opposite side in order to build balance within the body and mind. Move with intention, check-in with the breath, and find the balance of effort and ease, “sthira” and “sukha”, by utilizing the breath as a tool in order to “soften” while in the pose.

Move into the variation that best suits your body and best supports the breath.  Check-in with the breath to see if it is flowing smooth and steady. When the breath becomes labored, you may be in the posture too deep. “Back-off” in order to allow the breath to flow more steady. Notice the subtleties in the body and work to find proper alignment in order to keep the body safe and supported.

Notice how you feel. Notice if the mind is more clear and at ease and notice if the body feels light and energetic. Move through your day with intention and mindfulness. Utilize the breath in times of challenge in order to bring you back to feeling balanced and present in the moment.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Namaste,
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga


Christi Iacono is a certified yoga teacher, at the 500 hour level. She is the owner of In Rhythms Yoga, in Clairemont. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. Christi guides adults, kids and families in the tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve their body.

IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class.

Special Holiday Yoga Events include:
* Special Holiday Restorative Candlelight Class on Monday evening, Dec. 29th, from 5:30-6:45 pm. RSVP for both of these events to Christi at christi@inrhythmsyoga.com.
Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.

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