Sanskrit Name: Pahrighasana (par-ee-GOSS-anna)
Yes, I’m a day behind here, but it has been a busy week. All of life’s most stressful events seem to have culminated during this week, and it doesn’t help that the holidays (which can be incredibly stressful in and of themselves) are right around the corner as well. For this week’s asana, I wanted to choose a pose that is fairly simple, is something of an “opener” (as in, it opens the heart, the hips, and so on), and can be done as a little “getaway” from the busyness of the real world. I also wanted something a little different, something a bit off the beaten path. Enter Gate Pose.
Gate Pose is interesting in that it can be seen as an intense side bend, a hip opener (to a certain degree), and, in my opinion, a heart opener and a safe place for emotional release. In Sanskrit, “parigha” refers to “an iron bar used for locking a gate,” and the pose itself is sometimes called Gate-Latch Pose. To me, a latch can either be seen as a way to keep people out, or an invitation to invite them in. Naturally, I prefer to emphasize the latter. When we take Parighasana, we can create an invitation for positive energy and openness. Give Gate Pose a try, keeping your mind focused on drawing positivity into your heart.
Getting into Pahrighasana
Start by kneeling on your knees on the floor, perhaps coming from Virasana (Hero Pose). Extend your right leg out, striving to push your right foot to the floor. Keep your right foot and your left knee aligned as you turn your pelvis slightly to the right.
Inhale, bringing your arms up overhead. As you exhale, bend to the right, allowing your right hand to lower to your right leg. You may place your hand on your thigh, your shin, or on the floor beside your right ankle, whichever is comfortable to you. Keep bending right from the hip, reaching the left arm up and over into a side bend. Be careful to keep your right kneecap pointing up, as it tends to roll towards the floor in Gate Pose. Also, work on keeping your torso open, as it too tends to fall towards the floor.
Stay in Parighasana anywhere from 30 second to one minute. COme out of it by drawing the torso upright and bringing your right leg back underneath your body. Repeat on the left side.
As a bonus, Gate Pose is a great asana for hitting the obliques and the ever elusive psoas. Try it out between prepping side dishes.
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff