Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend Pose

Paschimottanasana-AshleighSergeant

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.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • 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.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. 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.
  2. Extend your spine by lifting your sternum up and broadening across your collarbones.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Allow the breath to move fluidly with you in the pose, using each inhale to lengthen and each exhale to hinge deeper.
  6. Hold the pose for up to 3 minutes before slowly releasing back to seated.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

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

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches hamstrings, spine, and lower back.
  • Thought to help relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause.
  • Thought to ease insomnia.

SANSKRIT:

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


Next Article

Ardha Chandrasana: Half Moon Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS   |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Ardha chandrasana (ARE-dah chan-DRAHS-anna), or half moon pose, is a challenging balance posture. However, there are many modifications and variations to make the shape accessible to everyone.

Philosophy + Origin

The Sanskrit word “chandra” is often translated simply as “moon,” and actually has a much richer meaning. More than just the moon, the chandra refers to something that is glittering and shining, a brilliant object that is illuminated by light or emanating light on its own. In many traditional yogic texts and stories, the moon symbolizes one half of the two polar energies in the body. The moon, which is the feminine or dark aspect, is nurturing, tranquil, and receptive.

Read Article

Related Articles

More In Focus

Our unique blend of yoga, meditation, personal transformation, and alternative healing content is designed for those seeking to not just enhance their physical, spiritual, and intellectual capabilities, but to fuse them in the knowledge that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.


Desktop, laptop, tablet, phone devices with Gaia content on screens

Discover what Gaia has to offer.

Get instant access to free videos, helpful articles, and exclusive offers.