Want a deep side stretch that will also fire up your hips and work your legs and abdomen? The gate pose in yoga might be just what you’re looking for!
Are you ignoring your sides while exercising or performing yoga? Well, doing so can lead to muscle stiffness and a weak torso. And if that is the case, trust yoga to solve your problem! Stretching sideways can activate your core muscles, expand breathing and bring a feeling of levity.
So, if you’re looking to work on your sides, the gate pose is what you should try! In fact, yoga expert Grand Master Akshar suggests parigraha asana aka gate pose for the side body, which is known to stretch the neglected muscles between your ribs.
“Parigraha asana or gate pose is usually done to ease muscle stiffness. Sometimes, we may suffer from body aches caused due to unknown reasons and at such a time, gate pose can be very beneficial to flex your muscles. Practice gate pose to reduce pain in your lumbar region or to increase flexibility in the thoracic area. For senior citizens, this asana can bring relief from any kind of stiffness in the muscles of the body. Athletes can use this pose as a relaxing technique after a strenuous workout or training session. Gate pose readies the body and prepares it for further activity,” says Grand Master Akshar.
Now. let’s see how you can perform this pose
Step 1: Kneel down on your yoga mat, facing the long side of the mat. Bring your knees and ankles together, with the tops of your feet against the mat behind you.
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Step 2: Stretch out the right leg to the right side keeping it straight. Firmly place the right foot on the floor and keep the right leg tightened at the knee.
Step 3: Bend to the right over the plane of the right leg, and lay your right hand down on the shin, ankle or the floor outside the right leg. Contract the right side of the torso and stretch the left.
Step 4: Inhale and reach your left arm up next to your left ear. And remember to let your right arm come down and rest on your right leg. The side bend tends to drop the torso towards the floor. Without pushing the left hip back, turn the upper torso away from the floor.
Step 5: Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, extending your spine on your inhales and deepening the side stretch on your exhales.
Step 6: Bring your torso upright and return your right knee next to the left one. Repeat the stretch on your other side now.
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Benefits of doing the gate pose:
1. Gate pose helps to stretch the pelvic region of the body. A pelvic stretch can improve bladder and bowel control.
2. This pose stretches the sides of the torso and spine. The side torso stretch strengthens the intercostal muscles. These are the muscles between the ribs, which help support them.
3. Because the gate pose stretches hamstrings, this can be good for your back as well.
4. Gate pose stretches the side of the body from the hips to the fingers, thus increasing the flexibility of the spine, building site strength, stimulating digestion, circulation, and respiration.
5. Gate pose is great for balance as well. Improving balance can prevent falls, reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries such as knee and ankle injuries, and improve proprioception.
Can you go wrong with gate pose? Well, here are some common mistakes:
- Avoiding knee pain: If your knees are sensitive, kneel on a folded blanket.
- Heavy hand: Do not place a lot of weight on the hand that is resting on your leg. Stay active and don’t place any pressure on the knee. Otherwise, doing so creates too much pressure on the knee joints.
- Dropping chest or shoulder: You want your chest to be open and your torso in line with your thigh. Don’t let your chest and shoulder drop forward.
- Overstretch: Only bend as far down as your flexibility permits. Do not try to over bend yourself, otherwise this can lead to injury. So, do not overstretch your body.