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Intense Side Stretch Pose: Parsvothanasana

Parsvothanasana, or Intense Side Stretch as it is known in english, is one of the foundation standing yoga poses.

Intense Side Stretch Pose opens and deepens our yoga practice and can with time, open up new possibilities for you. This yoga pose allows us greater hamstring flexibility, especially in our yoga vinyasa classes.

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Intense side stretch is a strong standing yoga posture. Parsvothanasana is also is a one of the postures that is accessible to most yoga practitioners, irrelevant of their level of experience. Intense Side stretch Pose also shares the same hip alignment position, such as revolved triangle pose, hand to big toe standing balance pose, revolved extended side angle pose. In this family of standing poses the hip position faces the front of the room, this is often referred to in yoga classes as a ‘square’ hip positioning.

In a previous blog series we also describe Warrior 2. Warrior 2 is an example of our second family of yoga poses where the hips face the side of a room, or ‘open’ hip poses. These two families of hip orientations, front facing hips and side facing hips give us a clear understanding of the standing yoga poses in two distinct different families.

How to perform Intense side stretch pose/ Parsvothanasana:

  • Stand at front of your mat in Mountain pose Tadasana. Step your feet a comfortable distance apart. Comfortable enough so you have your back leg’s heel securely connected and stable on the ground. Bring your hands on your hips. Turn your back foot so your toes point away from your leg. Align the right heel and left heel so they are in line with their respective sit bones. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the legs are firm and stable with muscular action.
  • Square your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As you turn the hips forward and square, press back to the ground with your back heel. Squeeze an imaginary block between your inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and lift your heart.
  • Lean your torso forward over your pubic bone and front leg. Stop when the torso is parallel to the floor. Press your fingertips to the floor on either side of your front foot. Use a prop (chair, block) if you can’t reach the floor. Lengthen your torso forward, while lifting your heart away from your pelvis.
  • Your pelvis is vital in this pose. Keep your pelvis as square and as level as is possible for you. Even if you’re not 100% sure about all the alignment detail, relax, breathe and move slowly. Trust your body and listen to your experience and body sensations.
  • Stay in this pose for a few breaths. Eventually your torso will move closer to your front thigh. Come up with an inhalation and press both feet firmly down to stabilize your ascent. Remember your other side!

Contraindications and Cautions : please always take care with any yoga pose. Make sure if you suffer from any physical condition that you either consult a qualified and trained yoga teacher or else a medical professional.

Preparatory Poses for Intense Side Stretch/ Parsvothanasana:

Downward Facing Dog

Straddle Leg pose

Forward Bend Pose

Tree Pose

Benefits of Intense Side Stretch/ Parsvothanasana:

  • Calms the brain
  • Stretches your spine and hamstrings
  • Strengthens your legs
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs
  • Improves posture and sense of balance
  • Improves digestion


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