How to do Parsvottanasana, Intense Side Stretch Pose
Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose or Single Leg Forward Bend is excellent for opening both the hip and shoulder joints. It provides a strong stretch for the back of the legs and greatly contracts the abdominal organs.
1. In Mountain Pose tuck the tailbone under and open the front of the hips. Gently draw the pubic abdomen in toward the spine. Lift the crests of the ribs away from the upper belly and allow the whole front of the body to lengthen and open. Soften the shoulders and allow the back of the neck to be long as the crown of the head lifts toward the ceiling.
2. Take your arms out to the sides and rotate the shoulders forward so the thumbs turn down.
3. Take the hands behind the back and bring the palms together (Paschima Namaskarasana, Reverse Prayer) to the middle back behind the heart. Press the outer edge of the hands into the spine as you pull into elbows back and roll open the front of the shoulders. Take a deep inhalation, enjoying the expansion available in the chest.
4. Step the left foot back. For easier balance, keep the feet with apart; otherwise, position the arch of the left foot in line with the right heel. Turn the left foot little out to the side. Square the hips and face the front.
5. On an exhalation, hinge at the hips to fold forward. Keep that chin tucked in, back of the neck long, forehead toward the right knee. Keep both legs strong and straight. Suck the right front thigh muscles in to the bone and press the outer edge of the left foot into the floor.
Stay here for several breaths. On each inhalation, lengthen the spine while keeping the hips Square. On each exhalation, deepen into the forward fold (Parsvottanasana).
6. Inhale to raise the upper body standing. Step the left foot forward to stand in Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.
Gaze: Tip of nose
- Place the hands on the hips
- Hold your elbows behind the back
- Bend the front knee slightly
Parsvottanasana, Intense Side Stretch Pose Counter Poses
In yoga we use a counter pose in a sequence; For example, a twist follows a backbend to “neutralise” the spine, or a forward bend follows a backbend to help lengthen the spine and calm the nervous system.