Practice: Parsva Konasana Variation / Side Angle Variation / ‘Lazy Angle’

lazy angle 1photo 2
Also known as ‘lazy angle’ by the brilliant Taylor Harkness, this variation of parsva konasana helps to give a deeper opening to the front hip, while simultaneously opening up the muscles of the chest, shoulders and upper back.

Taking the traditional postures and playing with them to see how our bodies respond is something that can serve to ignite a sense of curiosity. If you’ve been practicing for a while, it’s not uncommon to slip into auto-pilot when moving through a sequence or posture you’re familiar with. At the same time, if you’re still a beginner at this whole Yoga thing, then having the awareness of being able to deviate from the script as it were – to move in a way that isn’t dictated by how things should look but by how they feel instead – cultivates a sense of freedom that many of us don’t experience early on.

Remember, as much as this practice is truly transformative and the effects are deep, profound and long lasting – people made these postures up. Therefore, you do have permission to have your say too! No matter what the books might say, consider what feels right, not what looks ‘right’….

Playfulness, curiosity and trust in our own bodies are all things that begin to dissipate as we grow older and become ‘stuck’ in habitual movement patterns. There are endless possibilities and ways to move and feel, so remember not to limit yourself to the safeness of familiarity – getting outside our comfort zones is where we really begin to grow. Getting outside our comfort zone doesn’t always have to mean doing something scary or dangerous, it could mean just taking some time in your practice to think less and move more; to practice without anyone or anything guiding you; to stop judging and criticising what you’re doing, and to just move and trust. The body generally knows what to do – it’s  our over-analytical minds that get in the way.

To prepare the body for this version of Parsva Konasana:

Begin hands and knees. Start to open the shoulders and chest first with anahatasana: slide the hands forwards, and sink the chest down between the arms. Focus on bringing the chest and chin down towards the floor as you continue to reach the hips up and back. Stay here for a few breaths and allow the muscles of the shoulders and chest to relax and open.

From there, move into downward facing dog

After a few breaths, bring the feet forwards in to uttanasana before rising up in to tadasana (mountain pose).

Move through a few rounds of surya namaskar A and B, focussing on sitting deep into the hips in your utkatasana (chair pose).

After a few rounds, finish in adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) and step the [right] foot forwards into virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2). Stay in this posture for a few breaths, bringing the thigh as parallel to the floor as you can comfortably bring it, in order to lengthen the muscles surrounding the hips and thighs. Notice if tension has built up around the shoulders and consciously relax the upper body.

HOW TO:

  • From virabhadrasana 2 with the [right] for forwards, bring the front [right] hand to the floor inside the front foot. If this is difficult – or if your spine starts to round and the chest collapses – then grab a block (If you don’t own a block, either use a big book or a small box…..) and place your hand on that in order to create more height and therefore more openness in the chest.
  • Bring the back [left] hand down to the floor too, so the hands are about shoulder distance apart.
  • From here, begin to walk the hands out and away diagonally to the [left] so you begin to feel yourself sinking a little deeper in to the front hip.
  • Allow the chest to sink between the hands and then surrender the weight of the head so the back of the neck lengthens.
  • Create stability by pressing the hands into the floor, and then pull the hips back to maintain length in the spine. This action means your upper body is in the position of downward facing dog, and the lower body is in virabhadrasana 2.
  • Focus on your exhales as a way to relax into the posture – the more you relax, the more the hands will be able to slide away, and the deeper you’ll be able to move into the hips.
  • Maintain the position of the feet as you keep them firmly grounded to the floor. This firm and stable grounding will help the rest of the body feel safe enough to let go and relax even more.
  • Stay here for 5-10 breaths, or for however long feels good to you.
  • When you’re ready to transition out, begin to walk the hands back in towards you, and windmill the arms slowly back up to virabhadrasana 2.

Become aware of how your body feels after practicing this variation, and then move on to try it out on the other side of the body.

This posture is great preparation for prasarita padottanasana, skandasana, Baddha Konasana, kurmasana, trikonasana, and uttan pristhasana (lizard pose).

To counterpose the effects of this asana, bring yourself to sit on the floor, and practice paschimottanasana and gumokhasana to bring stability and grounding back to the inner legs and hip joints.

If you’re feeling ‘stuck’, then take some time to simply move, breathe and observe. Let your body guide your practice, and see where it takes you…

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