Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend Pose
Paschimottanasana (POSH-ee-moh-tan-AHS-ah-nah) invites space to the hamstrings and lower back as well as the mind. While there’s no need to touch your toes in this pose, practicing regularly can help lengthen the muscles in the legs and back to encourage flexibility and ease.
Philosophy + Origin
Paschimottanasana is one of the earliest-known yoga postures, dating back to the Yoga Pradipika. This pose is commonly known as seated forward bend or seated forward fold, but is also referred to as the stretch of the West, referring to the back side of the body.
- Place a pillow, bolster, or chair under your forehead for a more restorative variation.
- Option to sit in a chair with legs extended, then hinge from the hips to move into an accessible variation of seated forward bend.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Flex your feet so your toes are pointed up, then press through your heels to lengthen your legs.
- Extend your spine by lifting your sternum up and broadening across your collarbones.
- Hinge from your hips while keeping the front of your torso long and extended. Draw your tailbone back as your chest reaches forward toward your toes.
- Find more depth by continuing to lengthen the front body and encouraging the sternum forward. If moving toward the connection of forehead to shins, the progression is lower belly to thighs, then upper belly, then ribs and finally forehead to shins.
- Allow the breath to move fluidly with you in the pose, using each inhale to lengthen and each exhale to hinge deeper.
- Hold the pose for up to 3 minutes before slowly releasing back to seated.
- Half lord of the fishes | Ardha matsyendrasana
- Head to knee pose | Janu sirsasana
- Cobbler’s pose | Baddha konasana
- Corpse pose | Savasana
- Supported fish pose
- Spinal twist | Jathara parivartanasana
- Stretches hamstrings, spine, and lower back.
- Thought to help relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause.
- Thought to ease insomnia.
- Pashima = west
- Uttana = intense stretch
- Asana = pose
Hanumanasana: Front Splits Pose
Hanumanasana (hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) honors the great leap made by Hanuman, the famous monkey god from the Ramayana, across the ocean from India to the mountains of Sri Lanka. Front splits pose demands flexibility, strength, and stability.
Philosophy + Origin
More than just an incredible leap, Hanuman is remembered, celebrated, and worshiped because of his great devotion and courage. To be devoted, one must be bold enough to stand firmly in their beliefs, selflessly serving others and putting others’ needs above their own.
Because of its physical demands, it’s easy to get caught up in “achieving” the outward appearance of the posture. As such, it’s important to keep your ego in check as you dedicate yourself to the posture. Above all, invite kindness and selflessness to flow freely from the posture. As you practice, ask yourself how you can embody Hanuman’s devotion both in your physical yoga practice and your everyday life.