Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana)

पार्श्वोत्तानासना : Pārśvottānāsana

This pose is also known as the Pyramid pose. It provides an intense stretch of the hamstrings and builds balancing skills.

How to Get Into It

  1. Start in Mountain pose. As you inhale, make a wide step with your right leg to the right side. Align your feet, so the soles are parallel, and stretch your hands to the sides. The approximate distance between your feet is around 1 meter (3-4 feet).
  2. With the next exhale, turn the toes of the right foot to the right. Toes and kneecap are facing in one direction to prevent any knee injuries.
  3. In the following step, the torso is still facing forward; only legs are moving – keep reaching your arms to the sides to ensure the torso position. When ready, turn your left foot inward, so the sole creates the angle of 45° to 60° with the middle line of your mat. Ground the heel properly. Ensure your left sole is pressed to the floor evenly. Check if heels on the left and right leg are in line with each other. Press down to the ground through your feet and engage your quadriceps to feel your legs strong. This will create a good base for the pose.
  4. Then, exhale and turn your corpus to the right. Square the hips and ensure the waistline is straight. In this way, your pelvis is aligned correctly. Square the hips. Take some time to adjust the position of the bones, move your hips to feel into the pose.
  5. When #4 is done, fold forward towards the right leg. Remember to lengthen the spine. Keep pressing the left heel to the mat. The lower you fold, the deeper the stretch is. Fold until you reach the point with enough tension in your legs and back. Here, stay for 3-5 breaths and increase the duration as your practice develops.

Hands: there are a few variations of hands for this pose.

  • Beginner’s – palms are on both sides of the pelvis, elbows wide.
  • Moderate – grab your elbows behind your back and ensure you’re pulling the shoulder blades together.
  • Advanced – palms pressed together into a prayers gesture behind your back, elbows wide.
Photo borrowed from yogalily.com

Benefits

  • Improved posture and movement patterns
  • Better perception of the body position
  • Stimulation of digestive system
  • Is used in yoga therapy of flat feet
  • Nice stretch for legs and spine
  • Shoulder opener if performed with Reversed Namaste (palms pressed together behind the back)

Precautions

Women in the second and third trimester of pregnancy shouldn’t perform this pose because of the deep folding.

Those who have high blood pressure find Pyramid pose hard to perform it. If you have doubts about practicing this pose – please check with your doctor.

Modifications

Beginner: Newcomers often have issues reaching the floor as they fold. To modify the pose, use your hands. You can put them on the front side of your right thigh and work through the pelvis position. Alternatively, you can go deeper and place your hands on the shin, blocks, or mat. The only thing to watch here is that your back is still straight, and you fold in the hips as you lower your torso.

Advanced: If you want to go deeper, shift the midline of your core above the front line of the right thigh.

Common Mistakes

Rounding the back

This pose is not about going all the way down to the floor. Keep your torso in parallel with the floor and lengthen the spine. Ensure both sides of your core are long and parallel to each other as you go down.

Tension in the neck area

Because of such tension, it is a hard thing to take down in this pose. Add a bit of awareness to all the body parts and not only those taking part in the pose. Before you fold, scan your upper back and shoulder, and neck area for any form of stiffness and relax the muscles through several exhalations.

About

Stephanie started her yoga journey back in 2018 in an Ashtanga class. She likes to experiment and try new challenging postures and yoga tricks. When off the mat, sharing yoga lifehacks is another thing to do. She believes that energy settled in a safe and physically correct form can make you feel better not only in your body but deep inside your soul too.