Gate Pose is a side stretch performed from a kneeling position. It combines a side bend with hip opening and balance. In a yoga sequence, it is often performed towards the start of the practice to awaken the joints and muscles ahead of more strenuous asanas.
“Gate Pose always leaves me feeling taller after practice,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “The way it elongates and broadens the spaces around our limbs and torso creates an interesting effect as if the body physically stretched to be taller than before.”
Gate Pose Quick Look
Sanskrit Name: Parighasana
Pose Type: Standing Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Side body, armpits, shoulders, hips
Benefits: As the torso moves towards the extended leg, it stretches the hips and groin. The way the ankle is positioned on the straight leg, Gate Pose also helps practitioners work on ankle strength and mobility. From the side bend motion, you get a beautiful lengthening sensation that stretches from the outer hip of the kneeling leg to the fingertips of the top arm. Along the path of that stretch, you broaden the space in your rib cage, open the chest, and improve the range of motion in your shoulders.
Preparatory Poses: Seated Side Stretch, Supine Side Stretch (Banana Body), Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
How to Do Gate Pose Step-By-Step
- From a tabletop position, extend your right leg out to the side, aligning your right foot with the left knee.
- Walk the hands towards the body until you can lift the torso, aligning shoulders over hips. Rest your right hand on the side of the extended leg.
- Inhale as you raise your left arm. Exhale and lean sideways towards the right leg. Slide your right hand towards the ankle as the side bend becomes deeper.
- Extend your left arm up and over, reaching to your right. Pull the left shoulder back, ensuring that your chest and hips continue facing forward.
- Turn your head to peak from underneath your left arm.
- Stay here for 3-5 steady breaths. To exit, use the top arm to create momentum and bring your torso into an upright position. Come back to all fours and repeat on the other side.
Make sure to observe your sensations every step of the way. To feel the stretch in all the right places, you don’t necessarily have to go very far. Avoid sinking too much weight where the hand meets the extended leg. Instead, focus on lengthening through the opposite side of the body, as if you’re trying to create more space in your rib cage. If you find that your neck gets sore, or you feel disoriented when you leave the gaze from under the top arm, bring the neck back into a neutral position and find a dristi (gaze point) that will keep you steady instead.