Origami, patience, and Parsvottanasana

ImageParsvottanasana, or Intense Stretch of the Side Body Pose, reminds me of the Japanese paper crane tradition. It is said that a bride before her marriage has to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes to cultivate the patience needed for a long marriage.

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Parsvottanasana, a pose with many intricate folds like a paper crane, takes patience to learn properly. You may have to do the pose 1,000 times before gaining proficiency.

The classic pose is taught with Paschima Namaskar (Gestured hands on the “west” or back side of the body). These look like prayer hands on your back. I will teach that first.

First, stand in Tadasana


Then take the hands behind the back with the fingers pointed downwards.

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Rotate the wrists until the fingers are pointed up the back.

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Then move the hands side to side, like Salmon swimming against a strong current until the back of the hand are on the shoulder blades.

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Then, like a book, close the shoulder blades to fold the hands together and open the chest. Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 2.38.21 PM


This is Paschima Namaskar.

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If the wrists cannot be at the same level as the elbows due to tight shoulders, do Paschima Baddha Hastasana (Bound Hands on the West side of the body pose). Otherwise there will be too much load on the elbows.

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From here, jump the feet 3 to 3.5 feet apart (1 meter). Note this is a shorter stance than the previous standing poses.

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Lift the toes of the left foot and pivot sharply to the right.

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Then rotate your whole right leg to the side. Make sure the right heel is in line with the arch.

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Pressing firmly from the heel of the left foot, rotate the left hip so it is even with the right Then rotate your torso until the sternum bone is on the same plane as your right thigh.

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From here, press the hand into the back and lift from the sternum toward the chin, and the chin toward the ceiling. This stage creates tremendous lymphatic drainage in the neck.

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From here press firmly back with the left heel and extend the torso halfway down concaving the back.

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Keeping the sternum in line with the right leg, track your abdomen, chest, and chin down the right leg. This is the final stage of the pose. Beginners touch and go, more experienced students hold for 30 seconds.

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To come out of the pose, press the weight firmly in the back heel, press the hands into the back and come up with a concave spine.

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Rotate the feet facing forward.

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Jump the feet back together and release the hands. Be in Tadasana. Repeat the other side.


999 more to go….

2 thoughts on “Origami, patience, and Parsvottanasana

  1. Pingback: A simple forward bending sequence for experienced students | Home Yoga Practice

  2. Pingback: A sequence for raw beginners | Home Yoga Practice

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