Parsva means side and Uttana means intense. The direct translation is intense lateral stretching posture.
Pyramids are strong, durable and solid. Climbing the steps of a pyramid can be an allegory for the journey to enlightenment. Pyramids can also symbolize the sense of harmony and unity we can sometimes feel and create within. The steps of a pyramid represent lessons we have successfully learned. When someone completes a pyramid, it means they are in complete harmony with themselves, society and the environment.
Pyramids can also symbolize the transience of all things. No matter how solid, impenetrable, and impressive an object might be, all things (and beings) are subject to deterioration and decay.
Egyptian pyramids are the tombs of the Kings and Queens of ancient Egypt. They symbolize the power of the King. The size of a pyramid was a direct reflection of the power and influence of the Pharaoh in question.
Pharaohs were considered to be sons of the supreme god Ra ( the sun). It was thought that a Pharaoh’s spirit continued to oversee the concerns of the kingdom even after his death. The King and Queens were mummified to preserve them as guides. Pyramids are a symbol of hope; they were thought to protect the Kings and Queens and ensure their reunification with the gods.
The shape of a pyramid is meant to symbolize the ascension and descension of the spirit of any given Pharaoh to and from the sky.
Pyramids also symbolize the shape of the rays of the sun (the supreme god Ra) as they shine through the atmosphere.
Benefits of Parsvottanasana
- Stretches the hamstring of the front leg and the lower back.
- Teaches you to hinge from your hip crease.
- Invigorates the heart, thyroid and brain through a gentle inversion.
- Pyramid pose should not be practiced by anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease, or glaucoma.
- People who have recently had a heart attack or stroke need permission from the doctor to practice pyramid pose.
- Women in the third trimester of pregnancy (and perhaps earlier) should avoid pyramid pose or practice with modifications.
- Start in mountain pose with your toes together and your heels half an inch apart.
- Slide the left foot back into pyramid stance. Slide your foot back as far as possible while still keeping your hips square to the front.
- Allow your back foot to be slightly turned out.
- Make sure not to cross your back foot behind your front foot.
- Make sure to keep the back heel grounded in order to anchor the asana.
- Press all four corners of your feet into the earth.
- Feel the muscles of the legs hugging the bones.
- Engage your Bandhas (Mulabandha and Uddiyanabandha).
- Lift your sit bones as you draw your lower abdomen in and allow your spine to lengthen over your front leg, hinging from the hips.
- Bring your fingertips to the floor in front of your feet.
- Find length in flexion all the way from the crown of your head to your tailbone.
- As your transversus abdominis wraps around your waist, feel your internal organs relax into this support.
- Press the backs of your legs and soles of your feet toward the earth.
- Feel your lungs breathing deeply and your heart beating in your chest.
- For more of a challenge: the arms can come into reverse prayer behind the back, prior to hinging at the hips.
- Press down through the back heel to engage all of the core muscles and return the torso to an upright position.