Parsva Balasana: Thread the Needle Pose

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Parsva balasana (PARS-va bah-LAHS-ah-nah) is a simple twist and gentle inversion that can warm up or calm down your body.

Sanskrit:

  • Parsva = turned
  • Bala = child
  • Asana = pose

Physical Benefits:

  • Twists the thoracic spine.
  • Gently compresses the muscles of the upper chest.
  • Stretches the upper and outer muscles of the shoulder.

Preparatory Poses:

  • Childs pose | Balasana
  • Table top |Bharmanasana
  • Cat pose | Marjariasana

Sequential Poses:

Counter Poses:

Adjustments/Modifications:

  • Place a blanket underneath your knees for extra cushion.
  • A similar stretch can be done in seated or standing by crossing one arm over your chest and hooking it with the opposite arm.
  • Place your forearm (rather than your shoulder) on the ground.

Step-By-Step:

  1. Begin in a neutral tabletop position with your hands and knees on your mat.
  2. Exhale to reach your right arm under your left arm.
  3. Lower your right shoulder and ear to the ground.
  4. Keep equal weight in your knees, feet straight out behind you.
  5. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Release back to table top, then repeat on the other side.

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Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.

Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
  • Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
  • Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
  • Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.
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