Inside Poses - Parsvottanasana or Intense Side Stretch

Parsvottanasana or Intense Side Stretch Pose

You’ll either LOVE this or will love the journey towards finding comfort in it. The back of your front leg will get a deep stretch all the way down your hamstrings and your calf muscles. When looking for ease in this pose you will strengthen your leg muscles and will also notice improvement in pelvic flexibility. You get the benefits of Inversions which amongst many include helping your circulation and giving space to your disks. As the head is below your heart, this pose will oxygenate the brain improving alertness and circulation.

This beautiful image was shared with permission of a talented illustrator Anne Manda

You will find your flexibility and strength in Parsvottanasana when it is part of a sequence that develops flexibility in the hips and pelvis. A sequence that includes poses such as Warrior 1 and 2, Triangle, Side Angle and Revolved Side Angle, and Wide legged Forward Bend will complement each other enhancing each posture and allowing you to experience and work with your edge. Remember to warm up first though!

Inside the Pose

As you read on imagine that you are doing Parsvottanasana. Your legs are grounded and engaged. You fold from the hip crease and activate your Quads, which releases your hamstrings and offers you some ease. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine and connect to your core muscles – gently. Then to surrender to gravity.

Please protect your back and don’t get tempted to pull yourself deeper in the pose unless you are sure that you are folding from your hips. Even so, only pull gently in order to engage with a muscle/s and then gravity will give you enough to work with – trust me!

Half way through your pose come up slightly with an in breath lengthen your crown towards the front and your tail bone towards the back (straightening your spine, keeping core awareness), then draw your shoulder blades down and back. Acknowledge the space and movement of energy that this allows and fold back into the pose at the hip crease. Find ease, comfort and stillness.

Close your eyes and connect to what is working or needs engaging, what is relaxing or needs a breath.  Experience your physical body in the pose, experience your thoughts (if any) and then let them go. This is what so many people across the world are falling for – slowing down and being present in a world (inside and out) that moves so fast.

Reverse Triangle Pose (Parivtra Trikonasana) feels good after this pose. When coming out of this pose press down on your feet, engage your core, and breathe in as you come up slowly, with strength and control. Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and find your breath, grounding, and stillness.

 

A Few Helpful Hints: 

  1. Place weight on the legs as though you are about to walk backwards. The pelvis faces forwards.
  2. When folding into the pose, either place your hands on your hips at the hip crease (like superwo/man!) or reach your arms up straight. Fold forward by pivoting from the groin area – you should be slightly squishing your forefinger depending on hamstring flexibiltiy.
  3. Press outer thighs toward each other being careful not to let the front leg lift towards the same shoulder.
  4. Ensure that you have a straight spine. Take your shoulder blades down and towards each other and look at the floor ahead, not your legs. Place your hands on floor, blocks, or shin (without placing your weight on it). Alternatively have your palms in prayer at the back.
  5. Stand firmly on both feet – you may need to give time and special attention to your back foot. Check your pelvis is both neutral (this will engage your core) and facing forward.
  6. Send your tailbone to the sky as you would in down dog – hint 3 will help to do this.

 

Tips to Prevent Injury

Fold only at the hip crease in order to progress towards the full pose without risking injury.

Ensure that the legs are nice and straight and that the back knee is pointing in the same direction as the foot.

 

Take Caution If You Have:

  • If you have lower back issues then get some guidance from a good teacher.
  • If you have serious lower back or neck issues please consult a physician about doing this safely.
  • High Blood Pressure – facing a wall, only go down half way. You could place your hands on the wall.
  • Glaucoma

 

Associated Chakra: Muladhara (Root Chakra)