Yoga 101: Parsvottanasana or Pyramid Posture via Patch.com
Sometimes referred to as Pyramid pose, Parsvottanasana is an extended, intense side stretch. The intensity of this posture, as with most, can be controlled through modification.
As with other shape poses such as Triangle and Goddess, Pyramid pose can be deceptive. Without proper alignment, you can be in the posture but still not be totally engaged. Remember that the opposing position or arms and legs should create an equanimity, and you might feel the stretch in your sides, hamstrings, lower back and hip joints. If you suffer from tension or chronic pain in those areas, use the modifications offered below the first few times you try this posture. You don't want to overstretch!
Here's how to begin:
1. Have two blocks, books or chairs to use for modification.
2. Begin in Tadasana. Finding you dirgha breath, engage in Tadasana for at least one minute.
3. Bring your hands to your hips and step out wide to your right.
4. Bring your front foot and back foot heel-to-heel or wider. As you turn towards your front foot point your toes straight ahead. The back foot can turn slightly pressing both feet down.
5. For balance, imagine your feet growing roots that stretch beneath your matt, through the floor and into the earth below. Allow the energy to rebound up the engagement of your front thigh.
6. With hands on hips, turn them to face the front leg and foot, making sure that front foot is parallel to the side of your yoga matt.
7. Pressing through both feet, inhale and look up.
8. Exhale, and begin to fold your torso over your leg, drawing that front hip back as the back hip draws down.
9. Keeping the spine neutral from coccyx to crown, even out your torso and lower spine. (This is a good place to decide if you want to put your hands on two blocks or line up the chairs, one on each side, placing your hands down on the chairs to help support you in this posture.
10. For additional modification, try bending your front knee. Working through the breath toward a straighter leg is always the safest approach to new postures.
11. Use a deep, slow and relaxing breath to sooth your edges. Over time, the "roots" we planted open slowly like the lotus flower, each step revealed petal by petal.
12. If you're ready for a deeper stretch, try placing your finger tips on the floor or hands on each side of your front leg.
13. You can also try rolling your shoulders down your back towards each other.
14. Once your find your version of this posture, focus on the breath. Deeply inhale and exhale into the most relaxed and supported variation of the shape you can attain.
15. Give yourself at least five breaths on each side.
End with Savasana for at least five minutes.
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