How to Do Revolved Side Angle Pose in Yoga
Revolved Side Angle Pose is a deep, standing twist that challenges your balance and strengthens your legs and core. It's a powerful variation on Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana). It also combines the benefits of Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) and Crescent Lunge Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana).
The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Parivrtta Parsvakonasana" (PAHR-ee-VREE-tah PARZH-vuh-ko-NAHS-uh-nuh), comes from four words:
- “Parivrtta” — meaning “revolved”
- "Parsva" — meaning "side" or "flank"
- "Kona" — meaning “angle"
- "Asana" — meaning "pose"
It also goes by various English names, including "Twisting Side Angle," "Rotated Side Angle," "Side Angle Twist," and others. But no matter what your yoga teacher calls it, you'll still gain all of the benefits from practicing this challenging, standing twist!
Benefits of Revolved Side Angle Pose
Revolved Side Angle stretches, tones, and strengthens the entire body, inside and out. It stretches the thighs, knees, ankles, calves, groins, chest, and shoulders. This pose builds strength in the legs, as well, particularly in the quadriceps and ankles. It also stimulates and tones the abdominal organs and lungs, which improves digestion, elimination, metabolism, and breathing capacity.
I want [those who practice yoga] to understand that it’s the flexibility of their minds that’s so much more important than the flexibility of their bodies.
This pose challenges and improves your balance, and it also helps to develop stamina and full-body coordination. It improves concentration, increasing energy and confidence. It relieves stiffness in the shoulders, and can also be therapeutic for low back pain and sciatica.
In addition, twisting helps to detoxify the body by stimulating fresh blood flow through the organs, particularly the kidneys, liver, and spleen. This deep twist will help wring out toxins that are preventing your body from performing at its peak!
Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, or high or low blood pressure. Women who are pregnant should also avoid this pose. If you have a neck injury or current neck pain, do not turn your head upward in the pose. Instead, keep your gaze straight ahead with both sides of your neck evenly extended. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Breathe deeply and evenly, calming your mind and focusing on the present moment.
- Turn to the left and step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so your toes point to the top of the mat. Pivot your left foot inward at a 45-degree angle. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Your pelvis and torso should face the same direction as your right toes are pointing.
- Bend your right knee over your right ankle so your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Press your weight through your left heel. Inhale and raise your arms overhead. This is Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I).
- Bring your palms together at your chest in prayer position (Anjali Mudra). Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Lean your torso toward your front thigh and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.
- Press your upper left arm against your thigh, then draw in your right shoulder blade to turn your chest to the right.
- Then extend both arms. Reach your right fingertips to the sky and place your left hand to the mat. You can also rest your left hand on a block. Then extend your right arm over the top of your head. Your right bicep should be over your right ear and your fingertips should be reaching in the same direction your front toes are pointing.
- Keep your entire body hugging tightly to the center line of your body. Work to keep your back heel, hips, spine, and head in one straight line.
- Turn your gaze to the ceiling.
- Extend through the crown of your head, lengthening your upper body. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back.
- Keep your extended leg straight, strong, and lifting. Press firmly through the outer edge of your left foot.
- Lengthen your spine further on your inhalations and twist deeper on your exhalations.
- Hold for up to one minute. Then inhale to return to Warrior I, reaching both arms overhead. Then exhale and bring both hands to the mat and come into Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Then step your left foot between your hands, and repeat the pose for the same amount of time on the opposite side.
Modifications & Variations
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana will stretch, strengthen, and challenge your whole body when practiced correctly! Try these simple modifications to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If it’s difficult to keep your back heel on the floor, practice with your back heel against a wall. As you bend your front knee, imagine that you’re pressing the wall away from you with your heel. You can also place your heel on a sand bag or firm blanket.
- If it hurts your neck to gaze upward, turn your gaze to the floor, instead.
- If your spine and shoulders are not flexible, or if you have a larger stomach or chest, it can be difficult to place your fingertips on the floor outside of your opposite foot. If this is the case, place a block to the outside of that foot and rest your bottom hand there. Alternatively, you can bring your bottom hand to the floor inside of your front foot, or on a block at the inside of that foot.
- To deepen the pose, more flexible students can take a bind. From the full expression of the pose, press the bottom forearm firmly against the outer shin of the front leg to rotate deeper. Then, bend the top elbow and place the back of that hand on your low back. Reach your bottom hand beneath the front thigh, and clasp your hands behind your back. This variation is called Bound Revolved Side Angle Pose (Baddha Parivrtta Parsvakonasana).
Revolved Side Angle Pose builds mental strength as much as it does physical power. There is a lot to remember to execute the pose correctly! Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Three poses provide the foundation for the movements in this pose: Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), and Crescent Lunge Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana). Thoroughly review the information in the iSport guides for these poses before attempting Revolved Side Angle Pose.
- Build the pose from the ground up. Work on getting the foot and leg placements first. Then, adjust your hips and torso. The twist should be the very last part of the pose to be executed.
- Strongly engage your leg muscles.
- Lift your belly in and up. This will help you stabilize the pose from your core.
- Keep your spine long throughout the pose. Lengthen from the tailbone to the crown of your head.
- Keep the outer edge of your back foot pressing firmly into the mat. Try to ensure your back foot’s baby toe is on the mat.
- Keep your front knee aligned with your front heel. Do not allow the knee to drift inward — this can strain the knee joint. Instead, imagine it slightly moving out toward the baby toe.
- Keep your left leg active by pressing the thigh up toward the ceiling and extending strongly through the left heel. At the same time, resist the lift of the left thigh by pressing the tailbone toward the pubis.
- Never force the twist! Only turn as far as it feels healthy and comfortable; then, gently deepen the pose from there.
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana can be a powerful pose that will shift your practice to a deeper level. It will build focus, detoxify your organs, and develop inner and outer strength. When practicing this pose, remember that the "goal" of yoga is not to achieve the full expression of a pose, but to be fully aware of the pose you are currently in. Stay focused on the present moment and the true depth of the pose will reveal itself to you.