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Parsvottanasana or Pyramid Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

parsvottanasana
English Name(s)
Intense Side Stretch Pose
Sanskrit
पार्श्वोत्तानासन/ Pārśvottānāsana
Pronunciation
parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-anna
Meaning
Parsva: Side
Uttana: Intense, Extend- Stretch
Asana: Pose

Parsvottanasana at a Glance

Parsvottanasana, known as the Intense Side Stretch Pose (Pyramid Pose), is a powerful practice in Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga. This challenging standing pose involves a forward fold and can help relax the brain while achieving stability and balance in the body and mind. Moreover, Parsvottanasana is a foundational pose for the Parsvottanasana sequence and other yoga variations. Regular practice of this posture can benefit both physical and mental wellness.

Benefits:

  • Parsvottanasana helps to stretch your legs, hips, spine, shoulders, and wrists.
  • The pose strengthens your core and leg muscles.
  • It Stimulates your abdominal organs and helps with a better digestion process.
  • It helps to develop better balance and stability.
  • It also helps to relax and calm your body and mind.

Who can do it?

People who are already doing yoga can do the Pyramid Pose. Individuals with a normal level of flexibility and balance can do this asana. Beginners can do the Pyramid Pose, but initially under the supervision of the yoga teacher. People who are looking to get balance and stability in their life can include this in their exercise routine.

Who should not do it?

People with severe back pain and injuries should avoid doing it. If you have mild or severe hip or hamstring injuries should avoid Pyramid pose and consult your health care professional for guidance. Individuals with very high blood pressure should be careful or avoid doing it. Pregnant women and people with weak bones should avoid doing it.

How to Do Parsvottanasana?
Follow the Step-by-Step Procedure

Parsvottanasana is intermediate-level Asana, and if you practice it regularly, you can easily perform Parsvottanasana and do the advanced variations. Grounding is very important.

  1. You can start with some warm-up and preparatory poses like the Adho Mukho Svanasana and Uttanasana pose.
  2. First, begin with the Tadasana pose (mountain pose) on the yoga mat. Keep your legs hip-width apart and your hands on the side of your body.
  3. Stand straight and bring your hands to the Namaste position (fingers point up), now Breathe in deeply and exhale out, letting your stress go off.
  4. Now, to start with the Parsvottanasana stretch pose, keep your feet wide, more than the hip width (adjust the distance between your feet according to your height), stand straight, spread your toes, and let your feet connect to the ground and the chest open.
  5. The weight of your body should be equally distributed on both feet.
  6. Now turn your torso (body) toward the right (right foot) so the right foot is in front and the left at the back.
  7. Now, place your right foot in front (distance 2 to 3 feet) and the toes of the right foot should be facing forward and the left foot (left leg) back, slightly turned inward (45 degrees). This will help with better balance.
  8. Square your hips and should be facing forward, and don’t arch your lower back and keep your core engaged.
  9. Inhale deeply and open your chest. Your spine should be straight, and move your shoulders back.
  10. Now, you can bring your hands at the back, joining the palms to make Anjali mudra or namaste position or extend your hands in front of you straight in line with the shoulders.
  11. OR bring your hands toward the floor on the sides of the front foot or the shin, whichever is comfortable.
  12. Inhale deeply and exhale and fold forward from your hips, bend half the way, and keep your spine straight (your hands back with the Anjali mudra).
  13. Again, breathe in and completely bend further down to your front leg if possible, and try touching your thighs with the chest and rest your head on the knee.
  14. Let your breath continue and feel the inhalation and exhalation and be in this pose within your limitation.
  15. Be aware of the alignment, balance, and breath.
  16. When you are ready to release, release the hands if in Anjali mudra and bring your torso up slowly, bring your legs straight to the position – hip-width apart, and relax by taking some gentle breaths.
  17. This asana should be done on both sides, so prepare to do it on the other leg (left foot).

What are the Benefits of the Parsvottanasana?

  • It helps to stretch and strengthen the legs, hip muscles, and hamstrings and improves your core strength.
  • Regular practice of this pose helps to improve your balance and coordination for asanas as well in your everyday life.
  • It helps you to improve the balance of your body and mind, which enhances mental focus and stability.
  • It helps to massage the abdominal organs, which helps your digestive system and keeps you away from constipation, bloating, and gas.
  • It reduces excess fat on the waist and legs and strengthens and tones the muscles of the legs.
  • It helps to stretch the hip flexors, which can be helpful for people who sit for long periods, as it helps counteract hip tightness.
  • This pose enhances your overall posture by improving spinal alignment and strengthening the back muscles.
  • It can be sometimes helpful to release emotional tension and stress in the body and gives us a sense of emotional relief.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Parsvottanasana

  • If practiced regularly and properly, this forward fold pose can help to relieve the tension in your back and improve spinal flexibility if you are suffering from mild back pain.
  • People with mild sciatica pain can do this pose to relieve the tension in the sciatica nerves.
  • Individuals with stress and anxiety can practice this asana, which has a meditative quality and will help to reduce their daily stress and anxiety and promote calmness.
  • This pose gives an intense stretch to your hamstrings and is good for people with tight hamstrings.
  • If you are suffering from mild depression due to your day-to-day life, you can practice this asana as this combines both physical and mindfulness which can provide emotional relief.
  • People with mild indigestion issues can be helped by practicing this asana regularly, as this helps to put pressure on the abdominal organs while bending forward.
  • It can be helpful to people with mild insomnia and help to improve their sleep quality.

Safety and Precautions

  • If you have any injury in your hips, back injury, shoulders, or wrists, you should avoid this asana.
  • This being a deep bend pose, people with high blood pressure or heart issues should avoid doing the pyramid pose.
  • Pregnant women should avoid it.
  • If you have any back or shoulder issues, take the guidance of your health care professional and do it only under the supervision of the yoga teacher.
  • Don’t bend too low if your body doesn’t allow you to. Maintain proper alignment rather than go deeper.
  • Warmups are important to loosen your muscles and joints, so don’t avoid them.
  • If you have mild knee pain, you can bend slightly to avoid over-stretching it and only under the supervision of a yoga trainer.

Common Mistakes

  • Arching your back too much can create strain in your lower back.
  • Don’t allow your shoulders to fall forward.
  • Avoid locking your knees (Keep a soft bend).
  • Avoid bending your front right leg knee or left knee too much.
  • Avoid holding your breath.
  • Avoid lifting the heel of the back foot.
  • Exit slowly while coming out of the pose.
  • Avoid stressing your neck and shoulder blades.

Tips for the Parsvottanasana

  • Always start this pose with a warm-up and do a preparatory pose.
  • Keep breathing continuously.
  • When you internally rotate your shoulders be sure to pay attention to your collarbones, keeping them broad.
  • fold forward from the hip joints.
  • Engage your core while bringing your torso forward for better balance and stability.
  • Practice regularly to gradually improve your flexibility.
  • If your hands can reach deeper while bending, you can use blocks to support and stay balanced.
  • Listen to the body, and if you feel any pain or discomfort, just come out of the pose.
  • If you are new to yoga, do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Parsvottanasana

  • There should be a gap of more than 2 feet between your front foot and back foot.
  • The front foot should be pointed forward, and the back foot should turn inward at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • Keep your hips square (hips facing forward).
  • Weight should be distributed evenly on both feet.
  • Make sure your knees point in the same direction as your toes.
  • Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  • The upper body is folded forward when you exhale.
  • Don’t hunch your shoulders.
  • Your hands should be placed near the foot or hold your shin or you can bring it back, joining the palms in Anjali mudra (reverse prayer position).
  • Gaze below on the flow.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your spine.
  • Exit the pose gently and do it on the other side to balance.

Breath and Parsvottanasana

Breath is always the important part while practicing any yoga pose, and even for this pose, it is important as it helps to maintain focus and release stress and tension, and it is a very important, safe practice.

When you start the pose, inhale and lengthen the spine with the shoulders rolling back and down. When you exhale, bend forward and bend from the hips. Again, inhale and exhale the stress out, bend further deeper, and keep the flow of breath. Don’t hold your breath. It will help you stay focused and relaxed and keep yourself aware. When holding the pose, let your breath come in and take out all your stress and tension in any part of your body. When you come out, inhale and come back to a standing position.

Parsvottanasana and Variations

  • Variation with your hands on the blocks or hips.
  • Parsvottanasana pose can be done with arms extended forward.
  • Parsvottanasana poses with a twist after you enter the base pose.
  • Half Pyramid pose with hands on the back with prayer position.
  • You can try the pose with the back heel lifted.

The Bottom Line

Parsvottanasana yoga pose belongs to the forward bends, inversions, and standing categories. This pose is an intense side stretch with many variations for everyone according to their physical limits. The practice of this asana may have a positive impact on mental health, obesity, physical fitness, and blood pressure. It can also help reduce back stiffness, wrists, hips, legs, and hamstring muscles.

The Pyramid Pose can make you think about yourself and feel more connected to your inner thoughts and feelings while you’re doing it. It’s a bit like taking a moment to understand yourself better during your yoga practice. Initially do it under the guidance of the Trained yoga teacher.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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