Pārshvottānāsana (intense side stretch)
  • Stand straight with your feet together, in tāḍāsana
  • Step your right foot back 3 feet, turning the foot forward facing to the front
  • Keep the left foot pointing forward
  • Ensure the hips are parallel to each other
  • Inhale, lift your arms up and lengthen the torso
  • Exhale and bend forward, placing the hands on the floor
  • Draw the forehead toward the front shin
  • Stay for 5 breaths and come up on an inhalation

Asana in Depth

Pārshvottānāsana, also known intense side stretch, gives a great stretch to the side of the body, as well as the hamstrings and calf muscles. In Sanskrit, pārshva means side, uttāna means intense stretch, and together it stands for the asana (pose) which provides a deep stretch in the side of the chest.

Start by standing straight with the feet together, in tāḍāsana. Then step your right foot 3 feet back. Place the foot flat on the floor and keep it facing forward to the front of the mat. Ensure that both feet are on separate tracks and not in one line. Draw the left hip back and the right hip forward to ensure that both hips are parallel to each other. Engage the thighs, lift the knee caps up, and press all four corners of the feet into the mat. Inhale and lift your arms up over the head, extend the spine. Exhale and slowly lower down, placing the hands either on the floor next to your front foot or rest them on your ankle in case you don’t reach. Bring the forehead towards the shin of your front leg. Keep working on extending the torso with every inhalation, and with every exhalation draw the torso further down towards the shin. Stay for five to ten deep breath and then come up on an inhalation. Rep the posture on the other side.

As a variation to this posture you can bring join your palms together behind the back, in anjali mudra, with the fingers at the shoulder blade level. Inhale and extend the torso, look up and slightly back, and exhale to bend down with the hands remaining in anjali mudra. The rest of the posture follows as above. Another option is to interlock the fingers behind the back, and as you exhale to bend down, raise the arms up over the head. This will add an additional stretch and opening to the front of the chest.

One of the benefits of this posture is that it stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles and helps to relief any tightness or stiffness from the legs. It lengthens the spine, stretches the chest open and gives a stretch to the side of the body. When you are bent forward with the forehead resting on the shin, the inner organs get a gentle massage.

The contraindications for this pose are back injuries and high blood pressure. You may perform this asana with the assistance of a chair or table, by resting the hands on the table and coming down only half way.

Major Benefits
  • Stretches hamstrings
  • Stretch calf muscles
  • Lengthens spine
  • Gentle massage for inner organs
Contra Indications
  • Back injuries
  • High blood pressure
Anatomy Basics
  • Tones the quadriceps
  • Stretches hamstrings
  • Stretches gluteus medius