Revolved Side Angle Pose
This revolved variation of Utthita Parsvakonasana requires a lot of flexibility to twist so deeply and ground the back heel.
Since most students can’t easily keep their back heel down in this pose, a modified version will be described here with the back heel raised off the floor. See Deepen the Pose below for a brief description of the full pose.
parivrtta = to turn around, revolve
parsva = side, flank
kona = angle
Revolved Side Angle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees and turn your left foot inslightly to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
Exhale and turn your torso to the right until you’re facing directly out over the right leg; as you do this, lift your left heel off the floor and spin on the ball of the foot until the inner left foot is parallel to the inner right foot. Then exhale again and bend your right knee. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. 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.
With another exhale turn further to the right and lean the torso down, placing the left hand on the floor inside the right foot. Dig your right thumb into the right hip crease and push the thighbone down toward the floor. Firm the shoulder blades into the back ribs and lean the torso back slightly, away from the inner thigh. Stay in this position for a few breaths.
If this position seems challenging enough, stay for the recommended time. If you want to go further, bend your left elbow and bring it to the outside of the right knee. Resist the knee and elbow against each other. If possible, straighten your left elbow and reach the hand toward the floor (if you can’t reach the floor, support your hand on a block). You can keep your right hand on your hip, or stretch it over the back of the right ear with the palm facing down. Then turn your head to look at the right arm. As in all twists lengthen and soften the belly, extend the spine with each inhalation, and increase the twist as you exhale.
Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, exhale to release the twist. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then return to Tadasana.
Contraindications and Cautions
- High or low blood pressure
If you have any neck problems, don’t turn your head to look at the top arm; instead look straight ahead with the sides of the neck lengthened evenly, or look down at the floor.
Modifications and Props
Here’s an exercise that will help you deepen the twist in this pose by modifying it in an unusual way. Perform steps 1 through 3 in the main description above, with a block underneath the bottom hand. Shift onto the outside edge (little-toe side) of the back foot, and walk the block away from the inner foot about 12 to 18 inches. Lean the torso back away from the inner bent leg, as if doing a backbend, and on an exhalation, twist the front of the torso to face up at the ceiling. You can press the free palm against the sacrum, or stretch the arm over the back of the top ear.
Deepen the Pose
Advanced students will want to keep the back heel as much as possible on the floor. Be sure to rotate the back foot in more than you do for most other standing poses, about 45 to 60 degrees. Take a little support under the back heel if needed at first.
- Low backache
Most of the standing poses are appropriate preparations for this challenging standing twist, especially Parivrtta Trikonasana. You might also try wide-open groin poses like Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana; thigh stretchers like Virasana and its reclining variation; and hip openers like Gomukhasana.
Beginners often have difficulty maintaining their balance in this pose, especially with the back heel lifted off the floor. To improve your balance, support your heel, either by standing it on a sandbag or thick book, or by bracing it against a wall.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles
- Stretches the groins, spine, chest and lungs, and shoulders
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Increases stamina
- Improves digestion and aids elimination
- Improves balance
A partner can help you deepen the twist in this pose. Perform the pose with the outside of your back leg and hip braced against a wall (for the purposes of this description we’ll say you’re twisting to the right with your left leg and hip on the wall). Have your partner sit on the floor outside your right thigh and hip, facing you. She should press one foot against your outer thigh, just above the knee, and the other foot against your right hip (now the pelvis is squeezed between your partner’s foot and the wall). Reach your left arm out toward your partner. She should grasp the forearm and gently tug the arm toward her as she pushes her feet on the thigh and hip. Have her pull according to your capacity.
You can perform this pose with your hands in a modified Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal). Perform steps 1 through 4 in the main description above. Press the bent elbow against the outside of the bent knee, but don’t straighten the arm. Then bend the top elbow and press your palms together. You probably won’t be able to touch your thumbs to your sternum, as you do in traditional Anjali Mudra. Open your elbows wide, stretching your bottom elbow toward the floor, the top elbow toward the ceiling. Use the pressure of the elbow against the knee and the palms against each other like a crank to increase the twist in the upper back.
Revolved Triangle Pose
A counterpose to Trikonasana and preparation for seated forward bends and twists, this pose is key to a skilled practice.
Revolved Triangle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
With an exhalation, turn your torso to the right, and square your hip points as much as possible with the front edge of your sticky mat. As you bring the left hip around to the right, resist the head of the left thigh bone back and firmly ground the left heel.
With another exhalation, turn your torso further to the right and lean forward over the front leg. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot. Allow the left hip to drop slightly toward the floor. You may feel the right hip slip out to the side and lift up toward the shoulder, and the torso hunch over the front leg. To counteract this, press the outer right thigh actively to the left and release the right hip away from the right shoulder. Use your right hand, if necessary, to create these two movements, hooking the thumb into the right hip crease.
Beginning students should keep their head in a neutral position, looking straight forward, or turn it to look at the floor. More experienced students can turn the head and gaze up at the top thumb. From the center of the back, between the shoulder blades, press the arms away from the torso. Bring most of your weight to bear on the back heel and the front hand.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale, release the twist, and bring your torso back to upright with an inhalation. Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed, twisting to the left.
Contraindications and Cautions
Back or spine injury. Perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher or avoid it altogether.
Also avoid this pose if you have:
- Low blood pressure
Modifications and Props
One of the most common problems in this pose is the inability to keep the back heel grounded, which makes the pose very unstable. There are various ways to deal with the back heel. First, of course, you can just accept the situation and work diligently to press through the heel (and open the back-leg groin) even though it’s off the floor. Second, you can perform the pose with your back heel wedged against a wall, which gives you something to push into. Or finally, you can raise the back heel on a lift and, over time, work to gradually lower the lift until the heel stays on the floor.
Deepen the Pose
When you bring the bottom hand to the outside of the forward leg, press the forearm firmly against the outer shin. This pressure of arm-against-leg will help your torso rotate more deeply into the pose.
- Digestive problems
- Lower backache
- Baddha Konasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Siddhasana or Sukhasana
- Supta Virasana
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Utthita Parsvottanasana
- Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Utthita Trikonasana
- Virabhadrasana II
Parivrtta Trikonasana is usually sequenced just after (as a counterpose to) Trikonasana. You can also use this pose as a standing preparation for seated forward bends like Janu Sirsasanaand seated twists like Ardha Matsyendrasana and Marichyasana III.
This pose is slightly easier with a narrower stance. Beginners should also, as suggested in the main description, bring their hand to the inner foot, whether on the floor or on a support like a block or folding chair.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs
- Stretches the hips and spine
- Opens the chest to improve breathing
- Relieves mild back pain
- Stimulates the abdominal organs
- Improves sense of balance
A partner can help you stabilize and align this position and get a better feel for the twist. Perform steps 1 and 2 in the main description above. Have your partner stand behind you and wrap a strap across your front hip crease. Then continue with the rest of the pose. As you move into the twist, the partner will pull firmly on the ends of the strap, dragging the front groin deeper into the pelvis and the outer front hip away from the shoulder. Also, he can pull in on the strap to help you keep the front hip tucked in and, with one of his feet, press against and ground your back heel.
Parivrtta Trikonasana leads into a very interesting variation, not usually described in popular instruction manuals, called Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose). Perform the pose (twisting to the right). Then exhale, bend the right knee and reach the left hand forward on the floor (or onto a block) about 12 to 18 inches beyond the right foot (with the hand positioned on the big toe side of the foot). Inhale and straighten the right knee, lifting the left foot off the floor and bringing the leg parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, return the left foot to the floor with an exhalation, and leave the twist as described in step 5 above. Repeat on the other side.