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
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Ustrasana: Camel Pose

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ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     MANTRA    |     MUDRA    |     PREP POSES    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.

Philosophy + Origin

Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.

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