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The Pose Library

Gate Pose

Extend some love to your often neglected side body in Parighasana or Gate Pose.

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Students tend to enjoy Gate Pose. When the teacher calls it out, it rarely elicits groans or stink eyes. It feels pleasing because Parighasana targets the body parts that we often ignore. This pose grounds the knees, strengthens the ankles and feet, lengthens the legs, arms and side body. Ahhhhhh, the side body! Your intercostal muscles often feel tight because in daily life, we tend to focus on the front and back body. Intercostal muscles on the sides get ignored—until you put them in this juicy pose. When you stretch your right hand down your extended right leg (left knee down), the rib cage on the left gets blessed with more space.

Do this pose at the beginning or the end of class or anytime when you need to hit the floor. Your knee and foot are grounded while the top arm and upper body feel free. This pose might be called Gate, but it actually helps you find freedom.

Gate Pose Basics

Sanskrit: Parighasana (par-ee-GOSS-anna)

Pose type: Side bend

Targets: Lower body

Pose benefits

Gate Pose can boost energy and fight fatigue. It may help build confidence and empowerment. Gate Pose improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting for extended periods of time. On the extended knee side, it stretches the back of your thighs (hamstrings), groins, inner thighs (adductors), calf muscles, ankle, and foot. Your quadriceps and front of your hips (hip flexors) are also strengthened. On the bent knee side, it mostly stretches your outer hips (abductors), stretches and strengthens the front of your hips (hip flexors) and thigh (quadriceps) as you stabilize. On the shortened side of your torso, Gate Pose strengthens your side body, including abdominal obliques and muscles alongside your spine. On the lengthened side of torso, it stretches your side body, including the abdominal obliques. It also stretches large back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, and the muscles alongside your spine, including the erector spinae.

Gate Pose: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Begin kneeling with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and your knees and feet together. Bring your hands to your hips.
  2. Extend your big toes straight back, pressing down with all 10 toenails. Keep your pelvis is neutral position, neither spilling forward nor back.
  3. Open your left leg out to the side, externally rotating from deep in your hip socket and plugging your big toe mound into the floor. Keep your other hip directly over your knee.
  4. Inhale and lengthen your spine and take your right arm out to the side, externally rotating so that your palm faces the ceiling.
  5. Then exhale and bend laterally toward your extended leg. Let your left hand slide down your left leg.
  6. Gaze under your lifted arm.
  7. Gently twist open, moving your chest toward the ceiling.
  8. Use your inhales to lengthen your spine and deepen into the side body stretch.
  9. To exit the pose, slowly stack your shoulders on top of your hips, come back to both knees, and rest on your heels.

Beginner’s tip

Pad the standing knee in Gate Pose for any knee issues. If you have knee pain and can’t stand on the knees, avoid Gate Pose.

Variation: Gate Pose with a Blanket

Photo: Andrew Clark; Clothing: Calia

Place a blanket under your supporting bent knee for padding. Gently lean toward your extended leg (without forcing). Be sure to keep your top shoulder blade back, avoiding rounding the spine forward. Repeat on the other side.

Preparatory Poses

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

Counter Poses

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)