Basics of Gate Pose
Gate pose is a kneeling pose that focuses on deeply stretching the side of the body and it is found within the Hatha style of yoga. In Sanskrit, the pose is called Parighasana; Parigha refers to a bar that is used to close a gate and asana means pose thus giving us the name Gate Pose. When we perform this pose, our body resembles the look of a locked gate.
This pose is suitable for all levels; however, some may find it challenging to balance on one knee while gazing up to complete the stretch.
Gate pose targets the side body which is an area that we often neglect; we tend to put more focus on working the front and back of the body. This pose is great for alleviating stiffness in the body as well as increasing oxygen flow within the body which helps you feel calmer and more relaxed. Performing this pose opens space within the body and creates a sense of freedom.
How to do Gate Pose
Step by step instructions to doing Gate Pose
Step 1: Start in an upright kneeling position facing the long end of your mat. Your thighs will be perpendicular to the mat with the knees and ankles together and the tops of the feet down on the mat behind you. Ensure that your hips and knees are in line. If needed, you can place a towel or blanket underneath the knees for extra cushioning.
Step 2: Step the right leg straight out to the side making sure that it stays in line with the right hip. Your foot will be flat on the floor with your toes pointing out to the right and your kneecap will be pointing towards the ceiling.
Step 3: Inhale lift the arms out to the side, bringing them to shoulder height. From here, as you exhale, you want to slide the right hand down the right shin and reach the left arm overhead; it should be coming over the left ear. Your upper body will now be bending laterally over towards the right leg.
Step 4: Ground through the left knee, move your left hip slightly forward and then gently twist open. You don’t want the torso to drop towards the floor, rather you want to open the chest and ribcage towards the ceiling.
Step 5: Bring your gaze up to look under the left arm or if it is more comfortable you can turn your gaze forward to a point in front of you. With each inhale, focus on creating length in the spine and deepening the side stretch.
Step 6: Hold here for 5 to 10 breaths
Step 7: To come out of the pose, inhale as you lift up through your left arm to slowly bring the torso upright, once in an upright position you can lower your hands alongside the body, bring your right knee in and place it next to the left returning to a kneeling position.
Step 8: Repeat on the other side
Benefits of Gate Pose
This pose is often used to help prepare the body for yoga practice or exercise but is also commonly used as a stretch to relieve tension and tightness in the body that may stem from sitting too long or holding the body is certain position for an extended period.
Gate pose stretches the intercostal muscles that are found between the ribs. These muscles often tend to be quite tight; this is often caused by poor posture and long periods of sitting. Tightness in the intercostal muscles restricts the movement of the ribcage which in turn negatively impacts our breathing. By performing Gate Pose, we are stretching and elongating these muscles which improves our breathing. For this reason, Gate Pose can help with several respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies, and colds.
Other than the intercostal muscles, this pose works a few different parts of the body which makes it great for stretching, lengthening, and strengthening the muscles. When we extend our leg out to the side, we stretch the hamstrings, inner thigh and the calve. On the other side where the knee is on the floor, we are stretching the hips, outer thigh, triceps, and the back. We are also strengthening the glutes, pelvic floor and obliques when performing this pose.
Gate pose also helps improve posture and flexibility, relieves tension throughout the body, improves range of motion, improves balance and stability, builds core strength and stimulates digestion, circulation and respiration.
This pose is also beneficial for pregnant women as it can help alleviate some of the symptoms of pregnancy. Stretching and lengthening the side of the abdomen helps to relieve discomfort and creates more space for the internal organs and the growing baby.
To get the most out of our yoga practice and ensure we reap the benefits; we need to take the time to ensure that we are executing the pose correctly. With Gate Pose, there is often a tendency for people to have a “heavy hand”; this means that they place a lot of weight onto the hand that is resting on the outstretched leg which can create pressure in the knee joint. You want to lightly rest the hand and focus on keeping the core engaged.
Dropping the chest and shoulders is another common mistake. You may notice that when you reach your arm overhead, the upper body might start to drop forward. You want to focus on keeping your chest open and have the torso in line with the thigh.
As with any pose in yoga, there is often the tendency for people to overstretch and to try push themselves too far into a pose, this has a negative impact on your form as well as opens you up to the risk of injury. Always listen to your body and only bend over into the stretch as far as you can, bearing in mind you own level of flexibility.
- If you experience discomfort when kneeling, it can be helpful to place a folded blanket or towel under the knees for extra padding.
- When bending over to the side, there is the option to bring your hand onto a block rather than resting it on your leg.
- If you are battling to straighten the extended leg, you can keep a bend in the knee and slide the heel forward.
- If you are finding it difficult to press your foot on the extended leg into the mat, you can place a folded blanket or towel underneath the ball of the foot.
- To provide more stability in this pose, you could place the ball of your foot of the extended leg against a wall.
If you have an injury, it is better to avoid performing this pose especially if the injury affects the knee, hip, ribs, shoulder, or neck.
Since gate pose stretches the diaphragm and the heart muscles, people who have recently had any heart problems, surgery or a pacemaker put in may find this pose uncomfortable and as such should avoid it.
People who have a hernia should also avoid performing this pose because it stretches the abdominal muscles and could hinder recovery.
While gate pose has benefits for pregnant women, it is best to stop practicing this pose once third trimester starts as it may put pressure on their uterus, ribs, and lower back.
If you want to vary the pose a little bit, the position of the foot can be changed. There is the option to point the toes on the extended leg up towards the ceiling with the heel to the mat. You can also intensify the stretch by activating your core muscles more so that you are able to hover you hand just above the extended leg rather than resting it down. However, when doing this, be mindful to still have goof from and avoid dropping the upper body towards the mat.
What is gate pose good for?
Gate pose is good for stretching deeply into the side of the body as well as working the hips and the abdomen. Side stretches activate the core muscles, improve our breathing, and create a sense of space and freedom in the body. This pose stretches the neglected muscles in between the ribs called the intercostals. This pose is good for relieving tension in the body the often results from poor posture and long periods of sitting.
How do you do the pyramid pose?
Step 1: Start standing at the top of your mat in mountain pose with hand down alongside the body. From here, step the left foot back so that the legs are a little wider than hip distance apart. Your right foot will be pointing forward towards the short end of the mat and your back foot will be turned out slightly, but we do want to keep the heels aligned.
Step 2: Lift the body up a little coming so that the fingertips are on the mat. Ensure that your torso is in line with the front leg. Press your weight evenly between the edge of the back foot and the big toe of the front foot.
Step 3: Check your hip alignment, you want to ensure that they are square to the front end of the mat.
Step 4: As you inhale, lift up through the chest and lengthen through the spine, as you exhale lower the chest towards the shin, making sure to keep your back straight. You want to make sure that you are folding from the hips and not from the waist. If you have the flexibility in the shoulders, there is the option to bring your hands into a reverse prayer behind your back.
Step 5: Ground down through the heel of the back foot and gaze towards your big toe of the front foot.
Step 6: Hold here for 5-10 breaths
Step 7: To come out of the pose, slowly start to lift the torso up, pressing firmly through your back heel as you come up. Release the arms if you hand them in reverse prayer and then step forward coming back into your mountain pose.
Step 8: Repeat on the other side
Is side plank a yoga pose?
Yes, side plank is considered a yoga pose. Called Vasisthasana in Sanskrit, it is a challenging pose that strengthens the wrists, arms, abdomen, and legs as well as improves your sense of balance.