Gate pose is known in yoga for being a kneeling pose. It’s most well known for being a side bend as-well. This pose is very useful to have in a warm-up or cool down sequence because of how easy it is to incorporate. Gate pose also leaves a lot of room for many transitions into other poses.
The fact that so many poses can immediately follow this pose makes it easy and enjoyable to have in many yoga flows. This is why gate pose is consistently used in yoga classes. It’s also one of the only side bending poses found in yoga, which makes it crucial to use when warming up the body.
The basics of gate pose
Gate pose, which is known as Parighasana in Sanskrit, is a wonderful pose to use when wanting something gentle. It specifically stretches the side body, whilst also opening the chest area. It’s also known to be a slightly hip opener and stretches the calves depending on how the foot is placed in the pose.
This pose is mainly used to cool and calm. Gate pose is a gentle stretch of the side body that anybody can do. This makes it a beginner level pose but it’s also found in intermediate to advanced flows to ease into more difficult postures or cool down from them.
The benefits of practicing gate pose
The biggest non-physical benefit of practicing gate pose is that it makes a person feel calm. It eases the stress and anxiety that a person feels. Gate pose is often used in a yoga flow specifically to relax a person. It’s a pose that allows more focus on the breath and more space to be gentle.
Physically, the pose is also really good for the body. It stretches the side body, which a lot of poses don’t do. It opens the chest area and improves spinal health. The pose is done kneeling, which makes it a beginner balance pose. This makes gate pose great for practicing and building balance for more difficult balancing poses.
How to do gate pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in a seated kneeling pose, known as hero pose in yoga.
- Start to lift the glutes off the legs so that your head all the way down to your knees is all in one long line. The shins are still on the mat with the toes either tucked under or not, depending on the yogi’s choice.
- Start with the right leg first by stretching it directly out to the right side and have the heel on the floor with the foot flexed up towards the ceiling. The heel of the right foot should be in line with the knee of the left leg.
- Lengthen the spine and bring your right hand down onto your right thigh. Lean over to the right side as you lift your left arm up and over to stretch the side body.
- Tilt your neck slightly upwards so that your chest is open. You can slide your right hand further down your right leg if there is no stretch being felt. Stop where a sensation is felt.
- Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths remembering to breathe deeply and gently. Come out of the pose the same way you got in before going to the other side to stretch the left side body.
Common mistakes made when doing the pose
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when going into gate pose is that they slide their hand too far down their leg. This results in an extremely deep side body stretch that isn’t even comfortable or relaxing. None of the benefits of the pose are received when doing this and it loses its appeal. It’s supposed to be a gentle and relaxing pose, not a deep one.
Another thing that people do is forget to pad their knees when they get sore. This pose can take a lot of strain on the knees and many people think they must sit through it if the pain comes about. This isn’t necessary and folding the yoga mat under the knee is a simple solution to being comfortable in this pose.
Gate pose is easy for anyone to do, especially beginners. Although taking it slowly is always encouraged. Don’t push yourself too far when first trying the pose out. Go to a safe range and then work from there. Slowly move further down until sensation is felt but don’t jump right into a deep variation of the pose.
Making sure you have a mat that can fold or a thin blanket to pad your knees is also a good idea. Many people don’t know they have sensitive knees until they try the pose out and feel some pain in that area. Make sure you have something if that does happen to you.
If someone has a knee, thigh, shin, ankle, or spinal injury then they should not be doing this pose. Similarly, if someone is experiencing pain in any of these areas then they should avoid the pose. Especially if someone has knee pain, then this isn’t the pose to be doing. Always listen to your body and never do something if it feels painful. Immediately back off if pain is felt anywhere. Consult a doctor or physician before practicing a pose or doing any sort of physical exercise.
Variations of gate pose
A variation of gate pose, which stretches the ankles a lot more is one where the position stays the same but the foot moves. The foot is placed flat on the floor with the back of the heel still in line and facing the opposite knee. There’s another variation of gate pose, which makes it more core intensive. This version requires the hand placed on the leg to come off so that the core must hold the upper body in the side stretch. This is still a gentle side body stretch but with a slight core engagement.