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

Intense Side Stretch

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. 

Intense Side Stretch

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. 

A woman has her two hands on yoga blocks, and her left leg is extended forwards, with her right leg extended back. Her head is down, pointed towards her lower left leg.

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. 

A woman faces away from the camera with her hands behind her back; her palms are facing each other and her fingers are touching.

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. 

A woman faces away from the camera, her hands are behind her back at her lower waist. Her right hand is grasping her left wrist.

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. 

A woman faces away from the camera, her hands are at her side slightly behind her back. A yoga belt is looped around her wrists.

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. 

A woman is standing up and leaning forward, she has her head facing down towards her leg, and her hands are behind her back. A yoga belt is looped around both wrists.

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.

A woman stands on a yoga mat, with her right leg extended to the front, and her back leg extended behind her. She has her hands behind her back.


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. 

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