Why Can’t I Put My Back Heel Down In Revolved Side Angle?

Transcript of: Why can’t I put my back heel down in revolved side angle?

Alright, everybody! Welcome back to another question of the month. This month’s question comes from Christina. It’s about how to put the back heel down in revolved side angle. And of course, if you would like to submit your own question, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.

The Question:

So Christina asks this question:
“Could you please shed light on this? I am practicing Ashtanga over a year now, but still not able to ground the back heel in parivrtta parsvakonasana [revolved side angle]. Although I have been practicing modifications, [I] still have pain in my back knee and my front hip (especially on my right side).”

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The Answer:

Okay. Parivrtta parsvakonasana is a very difficult posture. Okay? Just because it’s in standing sequence doesn’t mean it’s a beginning-type posture. Okay, that’s number one. So, one year of practice — over a year, which means somewhere over a year and less than two — that’s not a long time. Okay? So, be nice to yourself.

Now, I don’t have my book in my hand, Functional Anatomy of Yoga, but maybe I’ll pop it in real quick. Shameless plug: I deconstruct this pose in depth in my book, Functional Anatomy of Yoga. So, I’ll give you the short version. Because I’m going to guess what the problem is here. You mention two things that are important. One is that you mention the right hip the back knee and front hip. Although, it’s not clear where on your hip. That’s a very vague and general thing.

But your back knee, that’s the one where the heel is trying to go down in revolved side angle. Let’s say it’s your right leg. Your right leg is back. You’re trying to put your right back heel down in revolved side angle. And, if your right leg is back, it means you’re twisting to the opposite side. You’re going in two different directions. What’s happening is, because you’re trying to put your heel down — we’ll get to the placement of the foot in a second — you’re probably twisting through your knee. That’s why you’ve got knee pain. So, stop. Slow down. Back up. Reverse.

Uncross the feet

I don’t know what modifications you’ve been doing. You didn’t specify. But there are a couple of important points. And I talk about this all in the book as well. You’ve got your foot-to-foot relationship. Right? Your front foot, knee bent 90 degrees, your body, pelvis, back leg, heel down — so what is that relationship? I’m going to guess you’re crossing. Your back foot, if you drew a line from your front foot straight back, your back foot is probably across. That is going to add more force through that knee. Okay? So, you take that foot and you bring it out.

Adjust the foot to foot distance

Now the other thing that’s happening — and again this is me just guessing based on what I’ve seen lots of people do — you’re probably also too far apart. You probably need to shorten the distance between forward and back. I call that length and I call this width. So, shorten the length and just go a little bit wider on the width. Start with that.

And the other thing I’ll say is that everybody focuses on the back foot. And this is sort of a little pet peeve I have. You know, we’re always giving up something for something else. We’ll give up one thing for another a lot of times when we are in the process of learning a posture. And that process could be a one-day process. It could be a five-year process. Who knows? When you give up one thing for another, you have to ask yourself why am I giving up this over this? Which has more importance? Which is teaching me what I really need to know?

Consider giving up the foot to work the hip

Having the heel down in revolved side angle? There are lots of places where you’ve already put your foot down. You know what it’s like to have your foot down. If your foot’s not able to go down, it says more about your hip joint than it does about your foot. So it should be getting you to focus in on what you’re doing and how you’re moving with your hips. Okay? Where you place your feet has an effect on where tension comes from and how easily your hip joint can move as well.

Accept that complicated postures take time

Okay? So it is a very complicated posture. I’m going to suggest you can probably just go to Amazon. You know where you can peek inside a book?  Do the little look inside. You might get lucky enough that they’ll show you those pages if you don’t have the book already. Yeah, it’s a tricky one. Most people don’t have a back hip that rotates by itself. And when it doesn’t, when it does start to rotate, the whole pelvis goes out. You see everybody with their hip off to the side that they’re twisting towards. That’s not correct. Okay? We want to try to avoid that. Let’s say it that way. Okay? We want that back leg to rotate on its own without moving the pelvis side to side.

You need to be careful because my guess is you haven’t developed that level of external rotation. So, as you try to put your heel down in revolved side angle, your knee is sitting in the middle of that. You might even have a slight bend in that knee, which is only going to allow more force to go into it. That sign of knee pain on a back leg on a pose like this? That’s not a good sign. You need to stop that.

Alright, I’ll stop judging and imposing. Alright, everybody. You know what to do. If you’ve got a question, you go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.

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