Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) is a foundation Yoga pose that greatly helps you go within yourself, in a manner that restores both your body and mind. The literal translation of the term Paschimottanasana is “intense stretch of the west.”
In ancient times yogis were known to bow down to the rising sun in the east. Thus by doing this, intense west stretch they aligned themselves on an east-west axis. How deep physically you go into the pose is not half as important as how much you are able to surrender while doing it.
Paschimottanasana is your release to gravity, a sign of you letting go and releasing yourself to yourself. A deceptively simple looking pose, Paschimottanasana is an intense and rewarding pose and a very soothing stretch for the entire back, from your heels to your neck, rejuvenating your entire system. In the bargain, it helps your distracted mind unwind and release all tension.
How to do the Seated Forward Bend Pose
1. Start the pose sitting on your Yoga mat your legs stretched out straight in front of you. You may butt support your on a folded Yoga blanket but press actively down through your heels. Rocking slightly on either buttock, pull your sit bones away from your heels with your hands. Press your thighs firmly down into the floor.
2. With a deep inhalation, and keeping your front torso stretched upward, lean forward from your hips, not from your waist. Stretch your tailbone back and away from your pelvis.
3. Next, hold the sides of your feet with both hands, elbows extended completely. If you are unable to hold your feet, feel free to loop a Yoga belt or strap around your feet, and firmly hold on to the strap. See that, at all times, you keep your elbows straight.
4. With every exhalation pull yourself gently forward always stretching your front torso and keeping your head raised. If you are holding your feet, bend your elbows out to your sides and raise them up from the mat. If you are holding a Yoga belt or strap, ease the grip and keep moving your hands forward, keeping your arms stretched. Finally, your lower belly should rest on your thighs, followed by you upper belly, ribs and then your head on your shins.
5. Hold the pose for anywhere from 30 – 60 seconds or more, depending on your own comfort level. To exit the pose, first raise your torso up from your thighs and straighten your elbows again, if they were bent. Next, with an inhalation, lift up your body by pulling your tailbone down and back into your pelvis.
Benefits of Paschimottanasana
- Stretches the shoulders, spine and hamstrings
- Stimulates the abdominal organs, kidneys, liver, uterus, and ovaries, thereby improving digestion
- Helps relieve menstrual discomfort and symptoms of menopause
- Helps reduce fatigue
- Highly therapeutic for high BP, insomnia, infertility, asthma and sinusitis
- Helps reduce obesity
- In case of backaches or injury, do this pose only under the guidance of an experienced Yoga instructor.