How to Do Gate Pose (Parighasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman doing gate pose on yoga mat
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Targets: Side stretch, inner thigh stretch

Level: Beginner

Yoga has lots of forward bends and back bends, but not that many side bends. Gate Pose offers the rare chance to really get into your side body and stretch the neglected muscles between your ribs. This feels particularly great during pregnancy when you need all the extra room as you can get in there. You can do this pose as part of a warmup, cool down, or stretching routine.

Benefits

Gate Pose stretches the intercostal muscles between the ribs and the inner thighs and hamstrings. Poor posture can lead to tight intercostal muscles. Also, you might feel muscle tightness in this area if you hold a body position for a long time, as in long distance running. Stretching can help you improve your ability to expand your chest and breathe deeply, and runners will appreciate the stretch of the hamstrings. This pose is a good choice to prepare you for exercise or for a full yoga session, or to relieve tightness after sitting for too long. In pregnancy, side stretches can help as your body changes shape.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Come into an upright kneeling position with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your hips over the knees. Place a blanket under your knees if they are sensitive.
  2. Straighten your right leg as you extend it out to the right side, keeping the knee and ankle in line with your right hip.
  3. Turn your right toes forward so that the right foot is parallel to the side of your mat.
  4. Inhale and reach your left arm up next to your left ear.
  5. Exhale and lean your torso to the right, stretching the left arm over your head. Let your right arm come down and rest on your right leg.
  6. Bring your gaze up under your extended left arm.
  7. Stay for several breaths, extending your spine on your inhales and deepening the side stretch on your exhales.
  8. Bring your torso upright and return your right knee next to the left one.
  9. Repeat the stretch on your other side.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this pose and prevent strain, avoid these errors.

Heavy Hand

Be careful not to place a lot of weight in the hand that is resting on your leg. Keep a light touch so your core stays active and you aren't placing any pressure on the knee.

Dropping Chest or Shoulders

You want your chest to be open and your torso in line with your thigh. Don't allow your shoulders or chest to drop forward.

Modifications and Variations

As with most yoga poses, you can perform this pose in different ways to meet your needs and level of practice.

Need a Modification?

If you have difficulty pressing your extended foot into the floor, try using a prop such as a folded blanket under the ball of your foot, or set up next to a wall and press your foot against the wall.

If you can't kneel, you can do a variation while seated in a chair. Your legs can be in front of you or you can extend one to the side as in the pose.

Up for a Challenge?

Instead of bringing your right foot parallel, keep the foot in line with the right leg, bringing the ball of your foot to the floor if possible.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have a knee, hip, or shoulder injury. If you have a neck injury, do not turn your face up, but keep looking ahead. If you feel any pain during the pose, gently release it and come out of the pose.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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