Pyramid pose falls under the category of forward folds. It’s a standing forward fold done standing on both legs and folding over one. It’s one of the deeper forward folds that focus on stretching the hamstrings and deepening flexibility. This pose has a lot of focus on alignment and requires a specific shape to be made with the body to feel the stretch.
Even though pyramid pose is done standing on both legs it’s still a bit of a balancing pose and requires the person to find their centre. It’s a calming pose that doesn’t require a lot of strength and can be held for long periods because it’s so gentle. There are also many modifications of the pose that can make it easier to hold.
The basics of pyramid pose
Another name for this pose is Parsvottanasana, which means to stretch the sides. Pyramid pose is, like any forward fold, is a hamstring stretching pose. However, it also stretches the side body and lengthens the spine, which strengthens it. It strengthens the legs when the pose is held for a long time and the legs are activated to help with balance. This can seem difficult, but it can be achieved by almost anyone.
Most people can get into pyramid pose with no problem even if they’re not flexible. This makes it a beginner-friendly pose. There are many modifications that can be used if someone struggles with their flexibility and equally there are ways to make the pose harder for the more advanced students. All versions receive the same benefits no matter how beginner or advanced a student is.
The benefits of practicing pyramid pose
The biggest benefit of practicing pyramid is that it stretches the hamstrings and increases flexibility over time. It helps the body to prepare for extremely flexible poses like splits or standing splits. At the same time, it helps the body learn to balance and co-ordinate. This can help to prepare for more complicated balances like warrior 3 and half moon pose.
Pyramid pose requires a straight and lengthened spine when folding to retain the alignment of the pose. Maintaining a lengthened spine stretches the spine out and can help immensely to improve posture. It’s really good for the spine to be stretched outwards, backward, forwards, and sideways because of how often people spend time sitting. It improves posture whilst keeping the spine healthy.
How to do pyramid pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in a standing position at the top of the mat. Have feet hip-width distance apart, spine straight, and arms by the sides with palms facing forward.
- From there, take a big step back with the right foot so that the feet are about 4 feet apart. The back foot should be turned out slightly and pointing to the top right corner of the mat (when the left foot steps back it should point to the left top corner of the mat). The front foot should be facing forward.
- Inhale and reach your arms up to the sky as you lengthen out your spine. Keep the spine straight the entire time. From there slowly begin to hinge from the hips and fold forward with arms staying overhead.
- Once a deep stretch is felt in the hamstrings the arms can come down and the hands can hold onto whatever is available at that height. It would either be the floor, ankle, shin, knee, or even thigh. Whichever it is, hold onto it with hands and keep lengthening the spine.
- The weight should be even between both feet and both hips should be facing forward. Don’t crunch in the neck, keep the neck in the same line as the spine.
- Hold here for 5-10 breaths remembering to breathe deeply before lifting up, going back to standing, and going to the other side.
Common mistakes made when doing pyramid pose
One of the biggest mistakes made when doing this pose is crunching the neck up to look forward, instead of lengthening the neck so that it’s in line with the spine. Crunching the neck can cause pain and wouldn’t keep the alignment of the pose either. Attempt to have the torso and head all aligned.
Another thing people do is try and push themselves further towards the floor. There should be no pushing in this pose, it’s a gentle and passive pose that requires no pushing. No matter how deep you are in a pose, if you feel a stretch then you’re doing it right.
When first trying pyramid pose, there is no need to keep a straight spine. Fold forward with a straight spine but then if it’s too much you can round a little bit. There shouldn’t be too much rounding but there is room for it. Keep the intention of reaching your heart’s space towards the kneecap, this will help with lengthening the spine.
If the stretch is too much or if the flexibility isn’t there yet, bending the front knee will help a lot. There’s no need to hyper-extend the front leg especially if it’s painful or uncomfortable. Go as far as your body can go and never push yourself into a pose.
This pose shouldn’t be done if someone has any knee, thigh, hip, spine, or shoulder injury. Similarly, if someone is experiencing pain in these areas then they should also avoid pyramid pose. Always consult a doctor or physician before getting into any physical exercise.
To make pyramid pose easier, place blocks or pillows on the sides of the front leg for the hands to rest on. The front knee can also bend as much as it needs, and the spine can round a bit. This is a more restorative variation of the pose, but it still stretches the hamstrings a lot.
To make this pose harder, the hands can go into reverse prayer behind the back. When folding forward the reverse prayer will keep the collarbone and shoulders open, which will help with keeping the spine straight. Fold halfway and hold with a straight spine. This variation requires more strength in the legs and more flexibility in the shoulders.References: