How to Do Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana) and Anatomy Break Down

Beginner YogaYogaYoga Pose
June 28, 2022

Have you taken a yoga class with me? If so, you’ve probably done side angle pose in nearly every one of the classes you attended. I love the pose for so many reasons, but it’s the subtleties of the pose that keep it from getting boring. The pose is accessible to most, making it a great beginner yoga pose, but there are several difficult variations keeping the pose interesting for the seasoned practitioner. 

These pose posts have gotten pretty long so I’ve added some convenient links for you to jump forward to each section.

Pose Basics

There are two basic forms of side angle pose: Parsvakonasana (side angle), Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle), and Baddha Parsvakonasana (bound side angle). I didn’t separate the two into different videos because it’s essentially a variation of the arm that changes the pose.

Basic Position

The Legs

Important Notes

The Upper Body

Important Notes

Bottom Arm

Important Notes

Side Angle Top Arm

Important Notes

Extended Side Angle Top Arm

Important Notes

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Moving in and out of the pose

In ashtanga (the foundation to vinyasa flow yoga) you fluidly move from warrior 2 into extended side angle (though it’s not cued). I personally like to come into side angle from warrior 2, it just feels the most natural. There is no one right way to move into this pose, but you should always be present and mindful as you  move into any pose.

To come out of the pose, lift up back into warrior 2 making sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips.


For Tight Upper Bodies

There are a variety of reasons why you may not be able to do traditional side angle or extended side angle. Maybe you have tight muscles in the shoulders, chest, or side body. Maybe you have an injury or frozen shoulder. Or maybe you just don’t feel like lifting your top arm up. No matter the reason, here are a few other options for your top arm in side angle pose:

For Sore Knees

I mentioned it above, but if you have sore knees or really tight quadriceps you can decrease the bend in your front knee to a place where it is comfortable for you.

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Challenging Variations

Side angle is a great pose for everyone because of its versatility. If you want to increase your challenge in the pose here are a few options (These are covered in the video if you want to follow along):

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Going Deeper

The first step for making the side angle more challenging is to bend the front knee deeper. Again, you want to try to keep the knee directly over the ankle.

Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4

Taking The Bind

The bind (Baddha Parsvakonasana) is often seen as an advanced variation of the pose. It requires a bit of shoulder mobility and a lot of core and leg strength.

Half Bind
Bind with a Strap

Anatomy of the pose

This section was requested by a reader so I thought I would throw this in here. I’ve touched on what you should feel in both bridge pose, and crow pose, and how to adapt for different anatomical challenges in childs pose. But this time I’m pulling it out and being more specific. Let me know if you find this helpful in the comments below. Anatomy is complex but the goal here is to hit the big points.

Lower Body:
Trunk  of the Body:
Upper Body:

Muscle Break Down

This section was requested by my husband after reading the section above. He’s never shown interest in yoga other than supporting me, and being a willing participant when I needed to practice Thai yoga massage. 😆 So as requested:

Muscles Worked
Muscles Stretched

As far as the subtleties of the pose, that I mentioned at the start of this post, it’s the slight shifting each time I move into side angle. Noticing what’s engaged, what’s being stretched, what happens if I move slightly one way or another. There’s always something to discover. What have you discovered?

Alright! After ALL of that hopefully you have a good idea how to do this pose, how it should feel, ways to modify it, and how to advance the posture. Let me know how it goes. If you made it this far and haven’t watched the video yet, go watch it!