Thread The Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)

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Thread The Needle Pose, Parsva Balasana, (par-savah baa-laa-suh-nuh)

parsva (turned) + bala (child) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Urdhva Mukha Pasasana

Pose Type: Twisting, Stretching

Difficulty: Beginner

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing thread the needle pose

Open up your shoulders and stretch the spine in this calming pose.

Thread The Needle Pose Fundamentals

Bend, stretch, twist, and release in this restorative yoga pose. Thread The Needle Pose works well both as a part of your cool down and preparation for deeper stretches. 

This pose is a favorite among students who sit for long periods of time. It releases tension in the areas of the back that not many other poses are able to reach, such as the space between the shoulder blades.

It also releases heaviness around the neck and shoulders, which often leads to chronic pain and a hunched posture. 

The pose is easily modified and will suit both beginners and advanced students. By using the support of the ground, you can utilize gravity and the energy of the earth to move deeper in the stretch, relax, and allow your body to be passive. 

Since it is a twisting position, Thread The Needle will also strengthen your spine and detoxify your organs, by increasing blood flow and acting as a gentle massage. 

The pose will also be a relief for active individuals, who are constantly shortening their muscle fibers through exercises. By lengthening the muscles, it will lead to a greater range of motion which will increase your performance, and reduce strain and risk of injury. 

Simply put, this pose is a beautiful relaxing asana, that you can incorporate at any point in your practice. You can also perform it on its own after a day of work, as a part of your cool-down routine, or before bed. Bringing a similar sensation as a massage, this pose quickly becomes a favorite – so we’d definitely recommend giving it a try. 

Thread The Needle Pose Benefits

  • Stretches the entire back, shoulders, neck, and pelvis. 
  • Strengthens the spine and keeps it toned and well-lubricated. This along with the active use of the ab muscles builds stability and helps in achieving a healthier posture. 
  • Stimulates the internal organs, so it may help with digestion and hormone imbalances. 
  • By releasing accumulated tension in the back, the pose may help reduce chronic pain and the feeling of stress. 
  • Encourages deeper breathing, which brings a sense of relaxation.

How To Do Thread The Needle Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Begin in Table Top Pose, with your wrist just below the shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your spine neutral.

2. Now raise the right arm up to the ceiling, and open your upper body to the right. Turn your head up to look towards the right arm.

3. With an exhalation, turn back towards the ground and slide the right arm underneath the left shoulder. Turn the head towards the left and keep the ear on the floor.

4. Bend the left elbow and use the strength of the left arm to slightly deepen the twist. There’s also an option to place the left hand on your lower back or to extend the arm in front of you. 

5. Hold the position for around 3 to 5 breaths, or longer if you want a deeper release.

6. Use your left arm to push you up from the pose and rotate the right and torso back towards the ceiling. Get back to Table Top position, then repeat the same steps on the other side. 

an annotated image of a man doing thread the needle pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • If your arm doesn’t touch the floor, keep the head slightly lifted as well, and focus on reaching the arm as far as you can. 
  • This pose should be soothing and comfortable, do a modification or refrain from the pose altogether if you feel any pain.
  • The longer you hold the pose, the greater the benefit. Try to find a stillness in your body and mind and hold it for a bit longer with your every attempt. 
  • You should manage most of your weight on your legs, rather than on your wrist and head. 
  • Keep your hips stacked, directly above your knees, and lift them as high as possible. 
  • Focus on taking long, conscious breaths, and try to send your inhales towards the part of your body where you feel most tense. 

Thread The Needle Pose Variation:

Thread The Needle Pose Variation: Thread The Needle With A Blanket

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing thread the needle pose with a blanket under his head and shoulder

If you are practicing this position for the first time or plan to hold it for longer, use soft props like a folded blanket or a pillow. Place the pillow below your shoulder, knees, head—or all of the above. Props will make the pose more comfortable, which will encourage your muscles to relax more. 

Thread The Needle Pose Variation: Dynamic Variation 

This variation can be done as a preparation for holding the pose.

Begin in Table Top, and with an inhale, raise the left arm towards the sky. Exhale, and with the next inhale, bring the arm down and under the right armpit. Hover the shoulder just above the floor—but don’t touch it—then extend it back towards the sky again.

Repeat his movement several times, and when you feel ready, release your shoulder entirely to the ground for static Thread The Needle, and hold. 

Thread The Needle Pose Variation: With a Block

a man wearing black yoga trousers doing thread the needle pose with a block between his thighs

If you feel wobbly in the lower part of your body and struggle to find alignment, use a block.

Squeeze the block between your thighs to help you engage your thighs and keep your hips vertical. The variation will also take some strain off your knees. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Putting too much weight on the shoulders. Make sure to balance most of your weight in the core and the legs – don’t put excess weight on the neck, shoulder, and head as that may lead to strain.

Hips Not Aligned. Moving your hips too much forward may compress your back. Push them slightly back and up, like you would in Extended Puppy Pose. By moving them slightly back, you will also take some weight off your shoulders and enjoy a deeper stretch in the lower body. 

Rushing It. Thread the Needle is a restorative position, which means it brings the biggest benefit when approached slowly. Use your breath to guide you, and once you reach the pose, find stillness and keep focusing on long, slow, and deep breaths to fully relax and surrender. 

Injuries and Ailments

Refrain from the pose if you’re recovering from surgery or an injury to the neck, arms, rib cage, shoulders, abs, back muscles, knees, head, pelvis, and hips.

Also refrain from the pose if you have severe arthritis, migraines, back pain, blood pressure, or a herniated disc. If you feel sharp pain or tingling, that means you went too far in the pose and should reduce the stretch. 

Related Poses

Extended Puppy Pose

Reclined Twist Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Cat and Cow Poses

Table Top Pose

Child’s Pose

Counter Poses:

Downward Dog Pose

Hero Pose

Cow Face Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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