Gate pose, also known as Parighasana, is another great side flexion exercise to strengthen the spine. The spine moves in four ways. These include flexion (to the front), extension (to the back), rotation to each side, and flexion to each side.
When we use a mix of exercises that involve all of these actions, we help create a strong, healthy spine. With a strong spine, we can also work on creating a strong core. Here’s more on this classic side flexion pose.
- Use ujjayi breathing.
- Begin on your knees.
- Slide your right leg out to the side. Keep it in line with your left knee. Turn your foot out slightly and, if possible, keep the sole of your foot connected to the floor. If this is not possible for you, find a deeper rotation at the hip, and flex your foot. This deeper rotation should help you turn your toes toward the ceiling. Do make sure to keep your right knee straight.
- Broaden your collarbones and reach your arms straight out to the sides.
- Take two breaths in this position.
- Exhale and come into side flexion by bending at the waist. Bring your right hand onto your right ankle. You can leave your hand holding your ankle or, for more challenge, release your ankle and rotate your right palm toward the ceiling.
- Reach your left arm overhead. For those who want a greater challenge, continue reaching through the left arm with the goal of allowing it to join the right arm.
- Hold for 5-8 breaths. Remember to lengthen as you inhale, and soften as you exhale.
- To come out of this pose, engage your abdominals and lift back to center. Lower your arms. Bend your right knee and place it beside your left.
- Follow the above steps for the other side.
Gate Pose Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
What is your favorite way to practice side flexion? Let us know in the comments below.
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