Side Stretch Pose

The side stretch pose is a standing yoga pose that helps to lengthen the sides of the body and improve posture. This simple yet effective pose can help to improve flexibility and range of motion in the spine and shoulders. 

In addition, it can help to alleviate pain in the lower back and hips. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced yogi, the side stretch pose is a great way to start your practice.

The Basics of Side Stretch Pose 

The intense side stretch pose, or Parsvottonasana in Sanskrit, is a challenging yoga posture that offers a variety of benefits. The name itself comes from the Sanskrit words “parsva,” meaning “side,” and “Ut,” meaning “intense.” 

This posture is often included in sequences that are believed to help boost energy levels and promote detoxification. The symbolic meaning of the intense side stretch pose is one of balance and harmony. 

In this pose, the body is evenly balanced on both feet, and the arms are stretched out to the sides in a symmetrical fashion. This creates a sense of stillness and equilibrium, which can be calming for both the mind and the body.

The Benefits of Side Stretch Pose 

  • On a physical level, intense side stretch helps to lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the back, shoulders, and legs. It also helps to improve flexibility in the spine and hips. 
  • In addition, intense side stretch stimulates the organs of the digestive system, helping to promote detoxification. 
  • On a mental level, an intense side stretch helps to calm and focus the mind. It can also help to relieve stress and anxiety. 

As a result, the intense side stretch pose is an excellent way to promote physical and mental wellbeing.

Step-By-Step Instructions to Do Side Stretch Pose 

  • To do the intense side stretch, begin by standing with your feet together. 
  • Reach your arms up overhead, then exhale as you bend to the right, placing your right hand on your right ankle. 
  • Keep your left arm extended straight toward the ceiling. 
  • Gaze up at your left hand while pressing your hips to the left. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then inhale as you come back to standing and repeat on the other side. 
  • You can deepen the pose by interlacing your fingers behind your back and pressing your palms together. 
  • You can also place a block under your bottom hand for support. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly as you hold the pose.

Common Mistakes 

Common mistakes people make while doing the intense side stretch pose include rounding the back, collapsing the chest, and placing the head in alignment with the shoulders instead of keeping it in line with the spine. 

To prevent these mistakes, it is important to keep the back straight, the chest lifted, and to gaze up at the ceiling instead of looking down at the ground. Additionally, beginners should keep their feet pointing straight ahead, and their knees bent, while more advanced practitioners can begin to straighten their legs and bring their heels closer to their pelvis. 

With regular practice, this pose can help to increase flexibility in the spine and shoulders while promoting calmness and concentration. 

However, it is important to avoid forcing the body into the pose and to listen to the body’s limits in order to prevent injury.

Tips for Beginners 

Doing an intense side stretch pose can be daunting for beginners but following a few simple tips can help you safely get the most out of this challenging pose. 

  • First, be sure to warm up your muscles with some gentle stretching before attempting the pose. Once you’re ready, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Slowly bend to one side, reaching your hand toward the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, place your hand on a block or other support. 
  • From here, extend your other arm overhead, keeping your shoulder blades down and your chest open. 
  • Hold the pose for a few deep breaths before slowly releasing and repeating it on the other side. With regular practice, you’ll be able to work deeper into the pose and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.


You should be careful not to overdo it. The intensity of this pose can put a lot of strain on your muscles and joints, so it’s important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Finally, be sure to cool down after you’re finished. 

Some gentle yoga or stretching will help your body transition back to a resting state and prevent any post-exercise soreness. If you keep these things in mind, you can enjoy all the benefits of doing an intense side stretch pose without any problems.


There are many variations of the side stretch pose, each with its own benefits. 

  • To begin, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, then exhale and bend to the right, reaching for your right ankle with your right hand. 
  • For a deeper stretch, try clasping your right wrist with your left hand. To increase the stretch even further, bind your hands behind your back and reach for the sky. 
  • Another variation is to keep your arms by your sides and simply lunge to the right, keeping your right leg straight and your left leg bent. 
  • You can also try this pose with your left leg straight, and your right leg bent for a deeper stretch on the left side. 

No matter which variation you choose, the side stretch pose is an excellent way to improve flexibility and range of motion.

The Final Word 

To conclude, the Side Stretch Pose is an excellent way to increase flexibility and mobility in the side body. It also helps to release tension in the shoulders and upper back. For beginners, it is important to start slowly and be mindful of any discomfort in the hips or lower back. With regular practice, you will begin to feel the benefits of this pose in both your body and your mind.


What is good side stretches? 

When it comes to side stretches, there are a few different options that can be effective. One popular choice is to stand with feet hip-width apart and raise one arm overhead. Then, reach over to the side with the opposite arm, keeping the body in line. 

Another option is to start in a standing position and then bend sideways at the waist, reaching down toward the floor. For a more challenging stretch, try lying on one side and extending both arms overhead. 

Whatever option you choose, be sure to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds before release. Side stretches are a great way to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

What is the side stretch called in yoga?

The side stretch pose is called Parsvottonasana in yoga practices.  

What muscles are used in intense side stretch poses?

This pose requires both flexibility and strength, particularly in the back, shoulders, and legs. The iliopsoas is the primary muscle used to flex the hip and bring the thigh toward the chest. The rectus abdominis helps to flex the spine, while the erector spinae work to extend it. 

The pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles work together to raise the arms overhead and extend the spine. Finally, the hamstring muscles help to straighten the legs. By using all of these muscle groups correctly, you can safely practice this pose and achieve a deep stretch.

How do you stretch your side?

One simple way to stretch your side is to stand up straight and then reach your arms overhead, keeping your shoulder down and away from your ear. Gently lean to the side, feeling a stretch along the side of your body. 

You can also modify this stretch by placing your hand on your hip as you reach overhead. For a deeper stretch, try holding a towel or strap in your hand and extending it overhead as you lean to the side. 

Another way to stretch your side is to lie on your back on the floor and place a towel around your foot. Gently pull your leg across your body until you feel a stretch in the side of your hip and trunk. 

Hasna Suhail

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