Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) and modifications explained
Yoga

How to practice: Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

By: Delight Yoga

Six simple Fundamental Asanas (postures) build the foundation of an Astanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. They are often called “standing positions” because they are composed of six relatively easy standing asanas. Parsvottanasana is the sixth of these fundamental postures.

The six fundamental postures are right at the beginning of every Astanga Yoga practice. No matter how advanced you are, after five rounds of Surya Namaskara A and B, you start with these postures. Here, you carry the rhythm you have set up in Surya Namaskara A & B in a flow from asana to asana. With this solid basis, you are perfectly prepared to enter whichever series you are practising.

Intense Side Stretch Pose is challenging not only because of the intensity of the hamstring stretch, but also because (in the full pose) the position of the arms and hands are in Anjali Mudra behind the back. So this pose, actually a deep forward bend, not only gives a good stretch to the backs of the legs, but also to the chest, shoulders, forearms, and wrists. As the mudra is so difficult for most beginning students, the pose will be described with the hands on the floor here.

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Parsvottanasana Instructions

  1. ekam
    Inhale, stepping right foot back, hands into prayer behind the back
    Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrumadhye)

  2. dve
    Exhale, bending over right leg, chin to shin
    Dhristi: to the nose (nasagre)

    5 breaths, Parsvottanasana (right side)
    Dhristi: to the nose (nasagre)

  3. trini
    Inhale, square up
    Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrumadhye)

  4. catvari
    Inhale, turn to other side bending over left leg
    Dhristi: to the nose (nasagre)

    5 breaths, Parsvottanasana (left side)
    Dhristi: to the nose (nasagre)

  5. panca
    Inhale, square up
    Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrumadhye)

    Exhale, release arms, step feet together at front of the mat, Samasthitih
    Dhristi: to the nose (nasagre)

Parsvottanasana Benefits

  • Calms the brain

  • Stretches the spine, shoulders and wrists (in the full pose), hips and hamstrings

  • Relieves stiffness hip joints and muscles

  • Strengthens the legs

  • Stimulates and tones the abdominal organs

  • Improves posture and sense of balance

  • Improves digestion

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