Intense Side Stretch
PĀRŚVOTTĀNĀSANA (पार्श्वोत्तानासन)
(parsh-voh-tahn-AHH-sah-nah)

 


‘Pārśva’= side or flank, ‘ut’= intense, ‘tan’= to stretch, lengthen, or extend, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Parshvottanasana
Parsvattanasana
Intense Extended Side Stretch Pose
Side Stretched Out Pose
Pyramid Pose
Angle Pose
Single Leg Forward Bend Pose
Side Forward Fold (Parsva Uttanasana)
Lateral Stretch Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Pose Type: Standing / Forward-Bend / Stretch / Hip Opener / Inversion

1. Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), facing the front of your mat, with your legs slightly apart (about hip distance), keeping your back straight, shoulders and arms down, and palms facing forward.
2. Facing to top of your mat, step your left foot forward into a wide stance. Turn your right foot out to the side, between a 45 to 90-degree angle (depending on flexibility). Make sure your heels are lined up. Root down through your feet to ground yourself. Make sure your legs are straight, but do not lock your knees.
3. Square your hips to the mat over your left leg. Take a deep breath as you engage your core and lift your torso and then exhale as you start to bend forward over the left leg. Bend from your hips, down toward the left leg. Place your palms on the mat, on either side of your left foot. Your left leg can either be straight (without hyperextending the knee) or have a slight bend to the knee.
4. Draw your abdomen to your spin as you lengthen through your back and sinking your forehead toward your leg. Keep your back straight as you gaze toward your knee and relax over your front leg. Your neck should be soft and aligned with the spine. Continue to engage your core and your thighs for balance.
5. Hold this pose several breaths (at least 20 seconds to increase strength and flexibility) and breathe smoothly. Feel the stretch in the inner thighs and hamstrings.
6. When ready, slowly release and come back to Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and repeat on the other side.

Common Adjustments
• Feet too far apart or too close together
• Lower back arched
• Hips not squared
• Front knee bent too much
• Neck and/or shoulders strained
• Knees locked / hyperextended

Modifications
• Students who have tight hamstrings or calf muscles, their back heel comes off the floor, or need assistance balancing, they can either: a) place blocks by their feet to rest their hands on, b) practice next to a chair, c) practice next to a wall so that they can place their hands on it or rest their heel next to it, d) they can slightly bend their knee or shorten their stance, or e) they can practice Half Intense Side Stretch Pose (Ardha Parsvottanasana) to gain confidence for the full bend.
• Students with high blood pressure, glaucoma, or are in the final stages of pregnancy, should practice Half Intense Side Stretch Pose (Ardha Parsvottanasana).
• For students that would like a challenge, they can place their hands behind their back in either Prayer Mudra or in Venus Lock (either close to their back or with their shoulders rotated so that their hands reach up over the head). They can also grab their elbows behind their back or have Cow Face Pose Arms.

Counter Poses
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana)
• Bow (Dhanurasana)
• Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
• Camel (Ustrasana)
• Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Minor) • Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Biceps and Triceps• Upper (Cervical) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Hips (Iliopsoas and Psoas)
• Gluteus Maximus• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the chest, shoulders, spine, abdomen, hips, groin, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and ankles. Also, opens the hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, hip joints and groin and reduces tension around the neck and shoulders.
• Massages digestive and pelvic organs, which improves colon function and digestion, as well as soothes constipation, stomach pains, or abdominal ailments. Also stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid.
• Improves posture and spinal alignment, as well as soothes back stiffness.
• Stimulates the nervous system, which calms the brain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as relieves mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue. This helps to boost energy, as well as encourages confidence, self-control, and acceptance. Also helps with breath awareness and relaxation.
• Improves blood circulation and soothes headaches and/or migraines along with menstrual and menopausal discomfort. This also stimulates the kidneys, liver, and spleen, as well as is therapeutic for students with weak liver, kidneys, or sinusitis.
• Relieves arthritis in the neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists when advanced arm poses are done.

Contraindications
1. Students with severe hip or hamstring injuries, should avoid this pose or perform with caution, along with props, modifications, and guidance.
2. Students with severe pain and discomfort in the neck, have a weak lower back, are in the later stages of pregnancy, have glaucoma, a cardiac condition, or have high/low blood pressure should avoid the full forward bend. If practiced, it should be done with modifications, props, and guidance.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 7 – Standing Postures as “Parshvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are in prayer mudra behind the back (instead of placed on the floor) and the back foot is facing forward (instead of at a 90-degree angle). This variation is typically more ideal for intermediate to advanced practitioners.
    • Watch the Chapter 7 video “Parshvottanasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana. **This video demonstrates the variation reflected in your textbook.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – STANDING POSES as “PARSVOTTANASANA – Intense Side Spreading”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the back foot is at a 45-degree angle (instead of at a 90-degree angle).

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