Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)


This pose will stretch the hips and hamstrings, lengthen the spine, relax your shoulders and neck, improve your sense of balance and help calm the mind.

       First Stage

First thing we'll do is place two or four blocks shoulder width apart on the right side of the mat. Stand in Tadasna with hands at the hips, then take the feet apart about one foot closer together than for Utthita Trikonasana. 

      Second Stage

Now turn your left foot in 60° (2/3 of the way in) and your right foot all the way out. Press the outer edge of the left outer foot down and roll your left shin, knee and thigh inward. Press the inner edge of your right foot down and lift and firm right knee and thigh. Keeping the thighs firm, turn the hips to the right until your hips are facing evenly to the right side of the right.

      Third Stage

Now you inhale, life the sides and front of your chest up. Then, with an exhalation, bend forward at the hips and place your hands (or fingertips) to the blocks. Make sure your hips are level: firm the right leg and move the right hip and back up. Turn the left thigh in and move the left hip forward and down. Make the back concave downward by extending the sides of the chest forward and pressing thighs back.

      In the Pose

Hold the pose for 30 seconds and come up on an inhale by anchoring in the back heal. Switch sides and hold for 30 seconds.

       Practice Notes

Beginners can keep their back heel pressed against a wall and keep your body grounded. If you are deepening the pose you can bring your torso down and into the inside of the front thigh.

       Contraindications and Cautions

Do not bend fully forward if you have a lingering back injury of high blood pressure. Instead, lower your torso parallel to the floor and reach your hands out to the wall. Press your palms into the wall with elbows fully extended.