Hyde is proud to present the third installment of Los Angeles based yoga teacher Ellen Huang’s guest blog on Baddha Parsvakonasana, Bound Side Angle Pose. Drawn from her popular Instagram series DETAIL + DEPTH featuring key preparations, modifications and variations dedicated to a single pose, we invite you to use this as a resource for your own practice or teaching. Enjoy!
TWISTED CORE WORK
In my experience, every pose benefits from a strong core. Strong in this case does not mean a washboard stomach, a toned stomach, a flat stomach, the ability to pressup into a handstand and balance, or the ability to do 3000 crunches. Strong means smart, which means being able to identify to what degree the core should engage (or disengage) to practice a pose safely and optimally.
For this core exercise, we add a twist to keep continuity with the shape of baddha parsvakonasana. Start on the back with the one leg straight and the other leg bent beyond 90 degrees. Raise the front leg so the heel hovers above the floor. If this is too intense on the low back or strains the neck, keep the foot down.
Take a full inhale with the arms overhead, exhale reach the right arm to the inside of the bent knee and left arm behind the head. Really turn the upper chest so that the bent elbow approaches anantasana, Vishnu’s couch pose. The elbow will point straight behind the head rather than to the side. Lift the right shoulderblade away from the floor. Stay and breathe, then switch sides.
FRONT VIEW – ½ BOUND PARSVAKONASANA ON A CHAIR
Okay, finally getting toward the basic shape within our usual orientation to gravity. This one uses a chair to support the lower body while using a strap around the front hip and back foot to lengthen the lower waist/side body. It also strengthens the connection between the back foot and earth.
Take the lower hand to the front chair leg and the top hand behind the back to the chair bar. Integrate the work of the core from the last pose and turn the chest. Do not over round the top side ribs. Stay and breathe.
BACK VIEW – ½ BOUND PARSVAKONASNA ON A CHAIR
Here is the same pose as the previous post, but with a different perspective. The key to this one is to not rest the torso on the thighs. Those with long arms or a deeper twist in the upper chest will have an advantage here. Stay and breathe.
BOUND SIDE ANGLE WITH FRONT FOOT ON CHAIR
One way many practitioners “cheat” in order to bind the arms around the leg is by coming out of the pose. A wonderful thing my teacher Alison West of Yoga Union taught me is to come into the pose THROUGH the pose. If we are taking a symmetrical pose, can we enter symmetrically? This of course isn’t always possible or even optimal, but it is another way to awaken our minds to habitual patterns and tendencies. Most students forward fold to the inside of the front leg, as if approaching humble warrior or lizard pose, to bind the arms, then return to the lateral plane of the pose. At the least, as a way to build new neural pathways, take the pose without allowing the chest to drop toward the floor. Where are the limitations, and what must work to stay within this plane of the pose?
One way to approach this entrance is through this prop setup. Step the foot on to a chair seat and with the back ankle under the hip, and turn the foot out. Inhale lift both arms, exhale widen the arms and side bend toward the front leg. From here, keep the chest open and place the lower arm to the inside of the front leg and top arm behind the back. Clasp the fingers or wrist, or use a belt. Stay and breathe.
Ellen Huang is a Los Angeles-based yoga teacher passionate about structural alignment. She is creative with props and purposeful with sequencing to open the body, mind and heart. Find her @practiceyoga.la and www.practiceyoga.la.