Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend Pose

Paschimottanasana-AshleighSergeant

Paschimottanasana (POSH-ee-moh-tan-AHS-uh-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.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Place a pillow, bolster, or chair under the forehead for a more restorative version.
  • Option to sit in a chair with legs extended, then hinge from the hips to move into a variation of seated forward bend.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Flex your toes back towards your face as you press through your heels. Extend through the spine by lifting your sternum up and broadening across your collarbones.
  2. Hinge from your hips while keeping the front of your torso long and extended. Draw your tailbone back as your sternum reaches forward towards your toes. 
  3. 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.
  4. Allow the breath to move fluidly with you in the pose, using each inhale to lengthen and each exhale to hinge deeper.
  5. Hold the pose for up to 3 minutes before slowly releasing with an inhalation.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

  • Corpse pose | Savasana
  • Supported fish pose
  • Spinal twist | Jathara parivartanasana

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches hamstrings, spine, lower back.
  • Relieves symptoms of PMS and menopause.
  • Encourages sleep and eases insomnia.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Calms the mind.
  • Relieves symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  • Balances feminine and masculine energies.

SANSKRIT:

  • Pashima = west
  • Uttana = intense stretch
  • Asana = pose
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