Yoga for Beginners

6 Steps to Master Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana)

Stretch your outer hips and hamstrings, lengthens your spine and encourage quietude and self-reflection in Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana).

NEXT STEP IN YOGAPEDIA Modify + Embrace Imperfections in Intense Side Stretch

Stretches your outer hips and hamstrings; lengthens your spine; encourages quietude and self-reflection.

1. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), inhale to step your right foot back and turn it out 45 degrees. Keep both legs straight.
2. Exhale to settle your feet into the earth. Inhale to spread your toes to help activate your legs. Maintaining firm legs, exhale to move the tops of your thighs back and widen your sitting bones apart.
3. Square your hips by moving your left hip back and your right hip forward. Exhale and make your legs longer by rooting down through your bones.
4. Inhale to lift your chest; on an exhalation, elongate your spine forward as you fold from your hips. Place your hands on the floor to either side of your left leg. If you’d like to go deeper into the pose, bend your elbows—just be sure to hinge at your hips rather than your spine (you can assess your posture with a mirror or a friend). If you are able to maintain length in your spine, rest your forehead on your shin.
5. Hold for several deep breaths, maintaining the extension in your spine.
6. To release, exhale to step your right foot forward into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Inhale as you come up to Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.

See also Work Awareness in This Intense Forward Bend

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Amy Ippoliti, don't intense side stretch pose, parsvottonasana

Don’t turn out your hips and bend your knees. Keep hips squared to protect your back, and knees straight to maximize the hamstring stretch.

Amy Ippoliti, don't intense side stretch pose, parsvottonasana

Don’t overly round your back, as this can flatten your lumbar spine and inhibit range of motion in your hamstrings.

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Teacher and model Amy Ippoliti aims to bring ancient wisdom to modern yogis, both on and off the mat, while sharing her passion for earth conservation. She is a pioneer of yoga education, co-founding 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school for yoga teachers. Ippoliti has studied yoga philosophy, vinyasa, and alignment-based asana since she was 16, and leads trainings and workshops around the world. Learn more at and @amyippoliti.