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Parsvottanasana - Intense Side Stretch

Intense Side Stretch – Parsvottanasana

Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch is one of the poses I like most, because it gives me an overall stretch. I’ve been a runner for a big part of my life. When I played soccer I wasn’t really good, but I could run a lot during a game. Just because of that I made it to the highest youth teams. When I stopped playing soccer I started running half marathons and two full marathons. Stretching was something I mostly skipped. Just thought it was a waste of time. When I started doing yoga I felt every pose in my hamstrings. Even poses that don’t really target the hamstrings.

Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch is a hamstring opener, but the hamstrings are not its main target. Parsva means side or flank. Ut means intense and tan means to lengthen, making the main target of this pose the chest/thorax. It’s one of the poses Iyengar always saw as an important pose and a good beginners pose. It’s part of my Yoga Basic video as well.

Getting into Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch

  • Start in Tadasana –  mountain pose
  • Place your hands behind your back, with the palms of your hands together; fingers pointing upwards. If you can’t make this, grab opposite elbows.
  • Step your left foot about one meter back and place it in a 45 degrees angle.
  • Breath in, open your chest, look upwards
  • Breath out and bend forward over your right leg, keeping the leg straight. If possible rest your chin on your shin. If you don’t make it, focus your gaze on your big toe, so you don’t curl your upper back to much.
  • Stay in the pose for 20 seconds till half a minute.
  • Breath in and come up, breath out and step your left foot forward again.
  • Repeat with your right food back.

Benefits of Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch

  • Opens the chest, improving respiration
  • Opens the flanks
  • Stretches the hamstrings and hips
  • Stretches the spine
  • Improves digestion
  • Stretches the wrists
  • Aligns the shoulders
Source: Iyengar – Light on Yoga / Key muscles of Yoga – Ray Long / 
Ashtanga – David Swenson / Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati
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