Intense Side Stretch
Intense Side Stretch, or Parsvottanasana is a great way to get to know your body's imbalances. Rosa Santana guides you through this important lengthening and rebalancing posture
1. Adho Muka Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Pose (with blocks under heels)
The blocks here help to raise the pelvis to achieve more length in the spine. Raise the balls of the feet to send the femurs back. Helps to strengthen the legs.
2. Parsvottanasana (Intense Stretch to the Side Pose)
Concave back with blocks variation. Raise the rear foot toes to maintain a firmness of the back let. Move the thighs back and lengthen the trunk forward. Roll the upper arms out to concave the upper back.
3 Parsvottanasana with Arms Down
From the concave position, bend the elbows to the side to spread the chest and release the head and trunk down.
4 Paschima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose)
Paschima means 'west', while Namaskar is a greeting. Here the Prayer position is on the back (west side of the body). If there is resistance in the shoulders or wrists, swinging the arms will gain more freedom. Don't force. Roll the shoulders back, and spread the chest. If possible, bring the palms together.
5 Paschima Namaskarasana Variation
If Paschima Namaskarasana is not available because of stiffness or injury, try holding a wrist on the sacrum. Keep the arms bent. You can still work on the external rotation of the upper arms, to lift and expand the chest.
6 Alternative to Reverse Prayer
If the first two hand positions are not possible, try belting the wrists. Make the belt about shoulder width. If there is a lot of stiffness, the belt may need to be wider. Create resistance laterally to access the collarbones, and spread them. Straighten and lengthen the arms. Keep the chest lifted.
7 Alternative to Reverse Prayer
Holding the wrists or with the belt, take the head and the trunk down. Maintain the outward roll of the upper arms, so that the chest remains open. Maintaining the firmness of the legs, relax the neck.
In all variations, the thighs pressing back will help the front of the trunk to remain elongated. Raise the head before you go down to get maximum space in the front of the chest.