3 reasons why I love Parsvottanasana

Parsvottanasana, otherwise known as Intense side stretch pose and Pyramid pose, is a standing pose with a forward bend and a test of balance too. Here's why it's a part of my regular practice.

Pyramid pose

1. Focus and calm

I love forward bends and balances so it works pretty well for me! The balancing element makes me focus and concentrate. The forward bend element calms my mind and draws my attention more inward, so I usually like to practise Parsvottanasana after more active standing poses. I personally find it also helps me with menstrual cramps along with all the other benefits like strengthening and stretching the legs.

You can read full step-by-step instructions, beginners tips, variations and the benefits of Parsvottanasana in the pose library.

2. A pose for everyone

What I really like about teaching this pose is that you can easily adapt it to make it accessible for more people:

  • You can bend the front knee if you feel too much sensation in the hamstrings, or if you tend to lock your knee (so that the back of the knee bulges out).  
  • Instead of coming into a fold you can keep the back parallel with the floor and go for length in the spine – like in the main image. This is a great “decompression” for the spine plus it uses core strength and prepares you for Parivrtta Trikonasana/ Revolved Triangle pose.
  • The full version of the pose is folding over the front leg with the hands behind the back in a reverse prayer position. This is a strong shoulder opener but can be too tough on the wrists so instead, you can hold your opposite elbows behind your back, or bring your hands to the floor or blocks. I often recommend this variation for runners as a warm-up or cool down – with the front leg bent as needed.

Check out our Yoga for Runners programme for lots more classes to add to your training.

3. Learning about your body’s position in space

Finally, I think this pose is great for teaching body awareness and a sense of where your body is in space, particularly in the hips. It’s very common to see students swinging the right hip to the side (when the right leg is in front).

A quick tip is to press the feet into the earth actively throughout the whole duration of the pose, to maintain the hip positioning to the front of the mat. Especially push down through the ball of the front foot to bring that hip back. Also firm the outer hips in towards the midline of the body.

EkhartYogis, you can see me give a few more subtle teaching points about the hips with Sandra in: Get strong in your standing poses – around 32 mins into the class.

If you have any extra reasons why you love this pose – or any questions about it – please let me know in the comments.


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Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.