Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Parsvottanasana—not for wimps!

Last week, I taught a number of classes culminating in parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose). It is not often a favorite, but it is one of those poses that are very efficient so you can do one as your 10 minute-work-out sometime when you are rushed. It’s even better when you take some time to work up to it, so that is my posting for this week. Give it, or one of the modifications, a try and notice the great stretch in the legs, opening of the chest and engagement of the torso muscles.

Parsvottanasana Sequence
-Tadasana (mountain pose): Start standing up and take some time to really ground through the soles of the feet, lengthen the side ribs and stretch up with the top of the head.

-Hastasana (overheard arm stretch): Stretch the arms to the side and then overhead, interlocking the fingers and turning the palms up. Keep the neck long and the shoulders down. When you lower the arms, try to maintain the lift in the rib cage without hunching the shoulders.

-Right angle stretch- Stand with the hands on the wall, or a chair back, hip distance apart, at hip level or a little higher (if your shoulders are tight). Step the feet back until the hips are directly over the ankles and the body makes a sharp right angle. Press your fingertips to the wall, press your sit bones away from the wall and enjoy the stretch up and down the sides of the body.

-Parsvottanasana Prep- Bend the knees and come to standing, but note where your feet were in the right angle stretch. Step your feet apart from this point, so your torso is that distance from the wall (maybe 3-4 feet). Now turn the wall foot towards the wall, your center foot slightly in and turn both hips to face the wall. Take a moment to really square the hips to the wall and lift up to the side ribs…

-Then, ground thru the back heel and gently press the back of the knee to the center of the room; press both sides of the front foot to the floor; and hinge forward from the hip crease, keeping the spine long. When the body is parallel to the floor (or however far you can come with the back long), stretch the hands out and press your fingertips to the wall to help balance the torso. Make sure the feet stay grounded and the hips square.

-Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch)-If you want to deepen the stretch, release the hands from the wall and bring them to Namaste behind the back (or cross the forearms at the lower back). Relax the spine and round down over the front leg, keeping the hips squared and the feet grounding. Then lift the spine back to parallel and then to upright. Turn the hips to center and release the arms. Come back to Tadasana and start the sequence for the other side…

Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall Pose) - After all this work in the spine, it feels great to elevate the feet and let the weight of the legs gently press your lower back to the floor. Stay and long as you want and then lower the feet to a Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle) or Sukhasana (Easy pose) position. Roll to the side and come back up to sitting.

©Brenda K. Plakans. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Parsvottanasana is always a challenge for me. I found that Leeann Carey has a great free yoga video that shows what to look for in the pose so it doesn’t seem so straining. I thought your readers might want to check it out: