Since we’re on the subject of the core muscles, it would be a great opportunity to look at some poses where the core is habitually disengaged. Utthita Parsvakonasana aka Extended Side Angle – an asana that’s popular and universally taught throughout vinyasa classes. Typically, we transition into the pose from Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II), so the front knee is bent while the back knee stays straight, with hips and chest side-facing and arms reaching out in opposite directions.
Without going into too much detail… moving into Utthita Parsvakonasana – the instruction will be to lower the front elbow to knee while the top arm extends over the head. What tends to happen is that students would lean from their elbow into the knee, essentially using the knee to support their body weight. You may even notice the curving in of the lower side torso as a result from leaning.
Sadly, this compromises the intention of the pose. In Extended Side Angle, one should experience the sensation of elongating, not only from the top side torso by the lower side too. To create length, start by grounding through the feet to bring steadiness to your stance. Activate the core muscles using that bracing action, squeezing in the entire trunk area.
With core engaged, the upper body feels sturdy and instantly lifted. Find lightness in the elbow that rests on the knee; this feeling of contact adds to the overall stability of the pose. Extend through the top arm and reach through the fingertips.
Hongyi the yogi
Full-time yoga teacher & trainee yoga therapist in London. Eager to share, eager to learn!