How to Do Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman doing pyramid pose on yoga mat

Verywell / Ben Goldstein 

Also Known As: Intense Side Stretch Pose, Intense Flank Stretch Pose

Targets: Hamstrings, shoulders

Level: Beginner

Pyramid Pose is one of those poses where you can really see the results of consistent practice. Do this pose every day and you will see your forward bend deepen as your hamstrings open. It's also a great warmup for any hamstring intensive poses that you might have planned. Keeping your hands on the floor or on blocks at first will prevent tipping over. It's OK to widen your stance toward the sides of your mat for the same reason. Later, you can start to incorporate your core strength more by lifting your hands off the floor and narrowing your stance.

Benefits

Stretches and strengthens the legs, especially the hamstrings, improves core strength. It also stretches your shoulders and builds your balance and coordination. If you engage in running and similar activities that tighten the hamstrings, this pose will help you maintain flexibility. It is also good for maintaining flexibility for all of those everyday tasks when you must bend over. The forward bend is an inversion and you will be sending blood to your brain, which may help provide mental clarity.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. From Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), bring your right foot forward to the inside of your right hand.
  2. Come up to your fingertips.
  3. Step your left foot forward about a foot. Turn your left toes out slightly and lower your left heel so that the sole of your foot is flat on the mat.
  4. Straighten your right leg.
  5. Lift your torso to a standing position.
  6. Put both hands on your hips to make sure that your hip points are facing towards the front of the mat.
  7. Inhale to lengthen the spine.
  8. On the next exhale, deepen your right hip crease as you come into a forward bend over your right leg. Keep a flat back as you lower yourself. When you come to your full extension, it's OK to let the spine round a bit. Lower your hands to the floor. Stay on your fingertips or flatten your palms to the floor.
  9. On each inhale, lengthen the spine. You can even come up to a flat back on the inhales. On each exhale, take the forward bend a little deeper. Keep drawing the right hip back to keep your hips squared. Microbend your right knee so it's not locked. Stay for around five breaths.
  1. To keep the body in balance, repeat on the left side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to do this pose correctly.

Narrow Stance

Your feet should be on train tracks, not a tightrope. If you have trouble squaring your hips to the front, take your train tracks a little wider. This can also help you maintain balance.

Hands on Shins

Don't grasp your shins with your hands. They should be on the floor, on blocks, or held behind your back.

Modifications and Variations

This pose has variations especially in the placement of the arms that can make it easier or more challenging.

Need a Modification?

If you hands don't reach the floor when you forward bend, use blocks under them for support. It's important that your hands rest upon something other than your shin.

Up for a Challenge?

To incorporate a balance challenge, try interlacing your hands behind your back when you are standing upright. Take the hands up and over your head when you forward bend.

Another variation is to take reverse namaste behind your back. Keep your palms pressed together and your elbows moving back as you forward bend.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have any injury or condition affecting your hamstrings, hips, back, shoulders, or wrists. Because of the deep bend, you should avoid it if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, or are pregnant (especially in the third trimester).

Try It Out

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

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