Parsvottanasana | Intense Side Stretch

(parsh-vo-tan-as-anna)

Type of Pose: Standing

Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) is equal parts balancing posture and forward bend. Parsvottanasana is a pose half-way between Trikonasana and Parivrtta Trikonasana


Parsvottanasana Benefits

• Cools the brain, soothes the nerves
• Strengthens abdominal organs;
•Relieves arthritis of the neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists;
•Improves digestion;
•Tones liver and spleen.
•Reduces menstrual pain;
•Strengthens and stretches the legs, hips and torso.

Contraindications/ Cautions

•High blood pressure;
•Dysentery
•Abdominal hernia (Can arch back but don’t fold forward).
•Cardiac condition; (Avoid the initial step of arching back before folding forward)

Step by Step

• Start in tadasana, take the left leg back 3-3.5 ft, rotating the left foot 75-80 ° . Keep the hips square by establishing a strong forward action in your left hip, combined with a rearward turning of your front hip and buttocks.
• Bring your hands into anjali mudra behind your back, a hand position technically known as prstanjali mudra (prsta, pronounced prish-ta, meaning “the back or rear of anything”). Your entire palms should be pressing together firmly, especially the base knuckles of your forefingers which will have a tendency to bow outward. Press the base of your thumbs together. Use this hand and arm position to broaden your shoulders and collar bones and help expand your chest. Press your elbows toward each other to allow you to press your palms together more strongly. Press your little fingers into your back allowing the chest to broaden.
• As in Tadasana, lengthen and broaden the soles of both feet, by lifting the toes off the ground. Spread all of your toes wide, lengthen them and place them back on the floor-avoid gripping the floor. Root the rear heel into the ground. Push energy up from the floor with this foot, into your back leg. Press strongly into the floor with both heels and use that energy to assist the action in your pelvis and torso. Engage the quadriceps of both your thighs to lift your kneecaps toward your groins. Lift the hamstring muscles on the backs of your thighs toward your buttocks and engage Mula bandha.
• With the torso facing front, inhale arching the chest and head up and back, lifting your sternum toward the ceiling as much as possible. Maintain the tailbone elongating downward.
• Center your torso over your front thigh and hinge down from the hips, elongating through the spine leading the torso down with the sternum. To assist going deeper, flex the abdominal muscles. Draw your navel as close to the center of your right thigh as possible.
• Move the left ribs forward more strongly toward your front leg in order to help you center your torso over your leg. Draw your forward hip back so that both sides of your torso are extending equally out of your pelvis. Maintain your pelvis squared to the front of the mat and leveled from side to side so that it is not tilting in one direction.
• Lengthen both sides of your torso from your hips to your armpits away from your pelvis. Draw your sitting bones up and back. Draw the shoulder blades down your back. Keep the back and front of the torso elongated, with the intention of taking the forehead to the knee or if possible the shin.
• In the final position of the asana, raise your elbows up toward the ceiling to open and broaden your chest. Allow your head and neck to relax and hang naturally with the pull of gravity. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

Beginner’s Tips: If the hamstrings are stiff, bend the front knee slightly. As the hamstrings loosen, slowly straighten the front leg without disturbing any of the other alignments achieved in the pose.

If the prstanjali mudra is too difficult, one can hold the elbows behind the back. Alternately, hands can be on the floor on either side of the front foot to gain leverage in raising the tailbone.

Take the feet hip width distance apart to allow more room for the hips as well as for an easier balance.

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