Intense Side Stretch Pose  -Parsvottanasana

Step by step

  • From Tadasana step your left leg back, about 1 meter (3 to 4 feet), feet on two different train tracks, right foot facing forward, left foot slightly turned out.
  • Keeping your hips facing the front of your mat. Make sure your knees point in the same direction as your toes.
  • Ground through your feet, engage your legs and place your hands in reverse prayer behind your back.
  • Inhale as you lengthen your spine and exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Stop before your back begins to round.
  • Roll your left thigh inward, while keeping your right hip back.
  • Hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths before repeating on the other side.
  • To come out actively push through the back heel, engage the core and come up with a straight spine.

Beginners tips

  • Instead of bringing the hands in reversed prayer position, try holding onto your elbows with opposite hands, or placing your hands on your hips.
  • If the stretch in the hamstring becomes too intense, slightly bend the front leg.
  • Actively pressing through the feet will help you to keep both hips facing forward. You can also gently scissor your hips together.

Benefits

  • Stretches the legs, hips, spine, shoulders and wrists.
  • Strengthens the legs and core.
  • Improves balance and digestion.
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and digestion.
  • Calms the mind.

Watch out for

  • Avoid folding lower than you can with a straight spine.
  • To protect your knees and hamstrings do not lock the joint.
  • If you have back or shoulder injuries, adjust your hand position and the depth of the pose.

Variations

  • Try keeping your arms outstretched alongside the ears to increase the challenge.
  • Try the pose with the back heel lifted.
  • Add in some extra work for the back muscles by lifting the arms out to the sides, elbows bent, and squeezing the shoulder blades together as you inhale. Lower the arms down as you exhale. Repeat three or four times.