Pasasana is an asana in which the body is twisted and the arms are bound around the squatting legs. The name comes from the Sanskrit pasa, meaning “noose,” “tie” or “snare,” and asana, which means “pose” or “posture.” It is so called because of the way the arms form a bound loop around the legs.
It is the challenging pose, and it gives your upper body very good stretch. For performing Pasasana you need to a stable and strong foundation hence this asana is suitable for intermediate and advanced students.
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) next to a wall with your feet hip-width and parallel to each other. Ideally, you will stand forearm distance from the wall. So, as you stand in Tadasana with the wall on your right side, turn to the right and press your right palm into the wall-from wrist to elbow, your forearm should be parallel to the ground. Adjust your distance to the wall accordingly and turn your torso back to center.
- Bend your knees into a full squat, with your buttocks sitting on your heels. If you’re not able to get the heels fully on the floor, squat with the heels raised on a thickly folded blanket or sandbag.
- Swing your knees slightly to the left. As you exhale, turn your torso to the right and press both hands into the wall. As your left hand presses into the wall, the elbow should press against the outside of your right knee. Support the pose by using your right hand for leverage-the right hand will be high and the left hand will be low. For the full pose, it’s necessary to close any space between the left side of the torso and the tops of the thighs. So work the back of the left arm down the leg, moving the back of the left shoulder toward the outside of the right knee.
- Press the knee and arm (or shoulder) firmly against each other. Use this pressure to lengthen the left side of your torso out of the inner groins, sliding it along the tops of the thighs. There’s a tendency in these deep twists to harden the belly, so try to keep your belly soft.
- Keep the right hand on the wall or bring the palms together with the elbows angled sharply away from each other. Use the pressure of the palms to increase the twist.
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Release the twist with an exhalation, then repeat for the same length of time to the left.
Contraindications and Cautions
- Avoid deep squats with any knee injury
- Lower-back injury
- Herniated disk
Modifications and Props
Beginning students often aren’t able to easily squat for Pasasana. It’s possible though to learn the rudiments of this pose while sitting on a chair. Sit near the front edge of the seat. Press the left hand to the outside of the right knee and twist to the right. You can push the right hand against the chair back to help lift the spine and improve the twist. After a few breaths, if this position is relatively comfortable, lean slightly forward and press the left forearm to the knee. Again wait for a few breaths and, if possible, lay the left side of the torso down near the top thighs and press the left elbow to the knee. Press the palms firmly and evenly against each other. Hold for a few breaths, untwist the torso and lift up with an inhalation. Repeat to the left for the same length of time.
To Deepen the Pose
To increase the twist, use the bottom arm (the one wrapped around the legs) to pull down on the top arm.
- Mild back, shoulder, and neck tension
- Menstrual discomfort
- Stretches and strengthens the ankles
- Stretches the thighs, groins, and spine
- Opens the chest and shoulders
- Stimulates the abdominal organs
- Improves digestion and elimination
- Improves posture