Master Parsvottanasana In 6 Steps

Stretch your hamstrings, tone your glutes, and maintain a balanced pelvis with these alignment principles and actions.
By Natasha Rizopolous ,

Ken Marcou

NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Ways to Modify Parsvottanasana

SEE ALL ENTRIES IN YOGAPEDIA

Parsvottanasana
Parsva = Side · Ut = Intense (or superiority in power) Tan = Stretch · Asana = Pose

BENEFITS

Stretches your hamstrings; tones your gluteus medius (outer hip muscles); teaches important alignment principles and actions for maintaining a balanced pelvis

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) facing the front edge of your mat with your hands at your hips. Keep your pelvis square to the wall in front of you with the two sides of your torso equally long. Step your right foot back about 4 feet. Place it at a 45-degree angle, and line up your heels (or widen your stance if you have trouble balancing or squaring your hips).

2. Root down with your left big-toe mound as you pin your left outer hip back and in toward your right heel. Pull up with your right inner arch, and press your right femur back as you spin your inner thigh back.

3. Spread your arms out wide to your sides, and bring your palms together behind your back. Inhale, lengthen your spine, and draw the heads of your upper arms back.

4. Engage your quadriceps by pulling your kneecaps up, but don’t lock your knees. Exhale, hinge forward at your hips, and extend out over your front thigh.  

5. Imagine a bird’s-eye view of yourself. Are the two sides of your waist equally long? Is your sacrum (the flat triangular plate at the base of your spine) parallel to the floor? You want to maintain length in your spine and symmetry in your torso. Recommit to directing your left outer hip back and in toward your right heel to lengthen your front waist; roll your right outer hip forward and down toward your left big toe to level your sacrum. 

6. Stay for 5–8 breaths, using your final exhalation to root down through your feet. On an inhalation, use the strength of your legs to raise your torso. Repeat on the other side.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Ken Marcou

Don’t allow your back foot’s inner arch to collapse, which can put strain on your knee. Instead, as you spin your back inner thigh backward (in order to roll your back hip forward) pull up with your inner arch and press down with the outer border of your foot.

Ken Marcou

Don’t let your front hip hike up toward your shoulder or swing out to the side, which will shorten your waist and distort your pelvis and spine, putting you at risk for straining your lower back or SI joint. Instead, maintain the symmetry of your torso by imagining a helpful hand at your outer hip, pinning it back and in toward your midline.

See also Master Paschimottanasana in 6 Steps

About Our Pro
Teacher and model Natasha Rizopoulos is a senior teacher at Down Under Yoga in Boston, where she offers classes and leads 200- and 300-hour teacher trainings. A dedicated Ashtanga practitioner for many years, she became equally as captivated by the precision of the Iyengar system. These two traditions inform her teaching and her dynamic, anatomy-based vinyasa system Align Your Flow. For more information, visit natasharizopoulos.com.

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