Parsva means side or flank. Uttana (ut = intense, and tan =to extend, stretch, lengthen) means an intense stretch. Parsvottanasana implies a pose in which the side of the chest is stretched intensely.

Parsvottanasana

Technique

  1. Stand in Tadasana. Inhale deeply and stretch the body forward.
  2. Join the palms behind the back and draw the shoulders and elbows back.
  3. Exhale, turn the wrists and bring both palms up above the middle of the back of the chest, the fingers at the level of the shoulder blades. You are doing ‘namaste’ (the Indian gesture of respect by folding the hands) with your hands behind your back.
  4. Inhale and with a jump spread the legs apart sideways 3 to 3 ½ feet. Stay in this position and exhale.
  5. Inhale and turn the trunk to the right. Turn the right foot 90 degrees sideways to the right keeping the toes and heel in a line with the trunk; turn the left foot with the leg 75 to 8o degrees to the right and keep the left foot stretched out and the leg tightened at the knee. Throw the head back.
  6. Exhale, bend the trunk forward and rest the head on the right knee. Stretch the back and gradually extend the neck until the nose, then the lips and lastly the chin touch and then rest beyond the right knee. Tighten both the legs by pulling the knee-caps up.
  7. Stay in the pose from 20 seconds to half a minute with normal breathing. Then slowly move the head and trunk towards the left knee by swinging the trunk round the hips. At the same time turn the left foot 90 degrees towards the left and the right foot 75 to 8o degrees to the left. Now raise the trunk and head as far back as you can, without bending the right leg. This movement should be done with one inhalation.
  8. Exhale, bend the trunk forward, rest the head on the left knee and gradually extend the chin beyond the left knee by stretching the neck as in position 6.
  9. After holding the pose from 20 seconds to half a minute with normal breathing, inhale, move the head to the centre and the feet to their original position so that the toes point forward. Then raise the trunk up.
  10. Exhale and jump back to Tadasana, releasing the hands from the back.
  11. If you cannot fold the hands together behind the back, just grip the wrist and follow the above technique.

Effects of Parsvottanasana

Parsvottanasana relieves stiffness in the legs and hip muscles and makes the hip joints and spine elastic. While the head is resting on the knees, the abdominal organs are contracted and toned. The wrists move freely and any stiffness there disappears. Parsvottanasana also corrects round and drooping shoulders. In the correct pose, the shoulders are drawn well back and this makes deep breathing easier.