The name Parsvottanasana comes from the Sanskrit parsva, meaning "side," ut, meaning "intense," tan, meaning "to stretch" and asana, meaning "pose" or "posture." Parsvottanasana may also be referred to as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose.
Parsvottanasana is a great pose as is prepares us for inversions, forward bends and backbends. It is also both an intense hamstring stretch and hip strengthener. It is a pose that teaches one to facilitate freedom by setting up boundaries. The boundaries and structure of alignment and muscular action allow for a safe and deep release, as well as the ability to experience more freedom of movement in this and other poses. Ironically, it is the discipline of creating clear boundaries that can help set you free!
The Core26 posture Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee is a similar pose. In this variation, rounding your back opens up your spine with a powerful, inner compression. It is also a deep forward bend with an added hip-opener – there’s a lot going on here!
• Calms the brain
• Stretches the spine, shoulders and wrists (in the full pose), hips, and hamstrings
• Strengthens the legs
• Stimulates the abdominal organs
• Improves posture and sense of balance
• Improves digestion
Preparatory poses: downward facing dog; prayer hands; butterfly; supine butterfly; cow face; wide leg forward fold; standing forward fold; tree pose; triangle pose
Follow-up poses: staff; peacock; wide leg forward fold; shoulder stand; head stand; chair; warrior 1; locust
• Do not practice this pose if you have a hamstring injury.
• If you have a back injury or high blood pressure, avoid the full forward bend; instead do Ardha Parsvottanasana (pronounced are-dah = half). Lower your torso parallel to the floor and reach your hands out to a wall. Press your palms actively into the wall (preferably with your elbows fully extended), keeping your front torso longer than your back.
• Keep hips squared to protect your back.
• In Vinyasa we want to keep the spine straight and long, folding at the hip, as well as keeping the legs straight. In C26, we want to round the spine and if needed bend your front knee so your forehead is close to your shin/knee.
• The full version of this pose is performed with the hands behind the back in Anjali Mudra (referse prayer position).
• Another variaiton is to simply cross the arms behind the back, parallel to the waist. Hold each elbow with the opposite hand. When the
right leg is in front, bring the right arm around behind the back first; when the left leg is in front, bring the left arm first.
• In C26, bring your palms together only a few inches in front of your extended foot so as you straighten your arms you’re able to round your spine completely. The elbows straighten out and the arms go behind your ears.
As with all postures, I encourage you to listen to your body and honor where you are
mentally, physically and emotionally each day. The pose will be there again tomorrow...
practice in such a way that you can be too!
Hollye and the SGY Teaching Team