Post baby, Angela Clark, co-owner of Mala Yoga in Cobble Hill, knows all sorts of new things, including the nuance of parivrtta parsvakonasana. "We believe the body is designed to move, and we work with students to craft a practice that works for their unique structure and strengths," said Clark, a former dancer. During and after pregnancy, many yogis need alternative poses or what the Mala Yoga team refers to as "swaps." Here Clark performs revolved extended side angle with a big trademark smile:
YogaCity NYC: What pose did you choose and why do you like it?
Angela Clark: Revolved extended side angle is a pose that comes up often in most modern yoga classes, and it’s one that needs adjustments during and after pregnancy. I had my second daughter a few months ago, so I wanted to show three ways to practice this powerful pose: a version for everyone, plus a prenatal and postnatal option. It's a great pose to move blood through the organs as well as wring them out. It opens the oblique lines of the body (which is much needed during pregnancy) and prepares us for other poses like backbends.
YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and body parts engaged.
AC: In this version of revolved extended side angle, the muscles of the legs and outer hips engage to stabilize the pelvis and maintain balance. This allows the spine to revolve. The external and internal obliques help this action, in conjunction with a small group of
muscles located in the back. Once the arm has crossed to the outside of the leg, muscles
of the upper back and shoulder girdle become more involved to keep the thoracic spine
extending instead of hunching over. I’m customizing this pose by adding a block under
my hand to bring the floor up, and keeping my back heel off the ground.
YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?
AC: This is a prenatal version that students can substitute whenever the full pose comes up in class. In this version, we are keeping pressure off the stomach and organs. This is a great variation for pregnancy as well as for people with instability in the lower back. The legs and outer hips are still engaged, but this time the erector spinae are more involved to help keep the body upright.
YCNYC: What is the overall effect of the third pose on the body, and what does this one
add to the understanding of the pose [and mind]?
AC: This variation can be done early on in pregnancy, postpartum, or as a variation for yogis who can’t do deep twisting due to instability in the lower back or hips. The same muscle groups are engaging here to maintain the pose, but I’ve placed a block under the hand to create more space in the front leg’s hip. Here, I don’t cross the body so there is no strong pressure on the abdomen. Not crossing the mid-line of the body in this postpartum version is key to protecting spinal instability.
To study with Clark, visit her at Mala Yoga. The studio's recent e-book, Your Prenatal
Yoga Toolkit, empowers students to practice throughout pregnancy in any class, with any teacher. To learn daily yoga tips, visit the studio on Instagram @malayoganyc.