Parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-than-AH-suh-nuh) stretches the hamstring muscles, relieving stiffness in the legs and hips. This pose also makes the hip joint and the spine elastic. While the head is resting on the legs, the abdominal organs are contracted and toned.
This pose allows yogis to discover the balance between the back and the front of their bodies. This asana builds trust within the practice when the yogi discovers deeper communication with the body.
Those with a hamstring tear should approach this pose gradually, and should not go all the way down but keep their palms on a block or a chair. Women who are pregnant or menstruating should not keep their heads on the knees and should do the asana with a concave mid-back with the palms on a block or a chair. Keeping the abdomen soft is essential.