Yoga Pose Breakdown: Gate Pose (Parighasana)

Gate Pose offers a deep stretch along the side body, invoking the idea of creating space as one door closes and another opens.

The side body can often be neglected—but breathing space into the side body can bring balance to the entire body, lengthen the abdominal muscles and hips, and stretch the intercostal muscles of the ribs. If you’re feeling crunched, opening the side body may be a great way to create some space. It’s also a great pose to consider when trying something new, at the beginning of a new year, or the start of a personal journey. Only when we create space can we invite something new to our lives.

Sanskrit Name: Parighasana
Parigha = an iron bar or beam used for locking or shutting a gate
Asana = Pose

Get Started:

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor
  • Stretch your right leg out to the right as you press your right foot into the floor (feel free to use a block for support if need be)
  • Stack your left knee below your left hip (your thigh should be perpendicular to the floor), as you align your right heel with your left knee
  • Turn your pelvis into the right slightly and turn your upper torso back to the left
  • Point your kneecap toward the ceiling as you turn your right leg out
  • Bring your arms out to your sides with your palms down
  • Bend to your right side (left next time around) over your right leg and lay your right hand on your shin, ankle, the floor or a block
  • Place your left hand on your outer left hip as you press your pelvis down toward the floor
  • Create space on the left side of your waist
  • Sweep your left arm over your head to the left as you roll your shoulders down your back and allow your palm to face the floor

Prepare for this pose by first opening the hips. Watch above for a nice hip opener from yoga teacher and bestselling author / illustrator Erica Jago

Benefits: This pose stretches the sides of the torso and the spine as it stretches the hamstrings and opens the shoulders. It stimulates the abdominal organs and lungs.

Contradictions: If you have a knee injury, try practicing this pose with a chair or skip it altogether.

Know Your Asana: According to Yoga Outlet, try practicing Three-Part Breath (Dirga Pranayama) before and after the pose stretch your intercostal muscles even further.