Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend

paschimottanasana - seated forward bend

Paschimottanasana is one of the classical Hath Yoga posture. It’s described in ancient classical text ‘Hath yoga pradipika (1.30)’ as one of the ancient known yoga asana. Paschimottanasana covers the whole system of the body but it is particularly useful for diabetes and blood pressure.

Other names by which paschimottanasana is known are: Seated Forward Fold Pose, Intense Back Stretch Pose, Entire Back Stretch Pose, West Stretch Pose.

Sanskrit Nameपश्चिमोत्तानासन
PronunciationPASH-ee-moh-tan-AH-suh-nuh
TranslationForward seated bend or Intense Dorsal Stretch
Pose TypeForward Bend or seated
Holding Duration30 seconds
StrengthensBack, Spine
DoshaPitta
ChakraStimulates Manipur Chakra
Pose LevelBeginners
ElementFire

Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend

The name Paschimottanasana is derived from the Sanskrit (पश्चिमोत्तानासन) language. ‘Paschima’ means ‘west’ (direction) or ‘back of the body’, ‘uttana’ means ‘to extend’ or ‘to stretch intensely’ and ‘asana’ means ‘pose’ or ‘posture’.

On combining the individual terms of Sanskrit, ‘Paschimottanasana’ is also known as the ‘Seated Forward Bend Pose’. In this pose, a practitioner raises his hands while stretching the back to grab the toes or foot.

Steps To Perform Paschimottanasana

By following some simple steps, one can get into this asana. So, let’s get started:

  1. Sit in dandasana. Your legs should be straight, flexed and together. Bring your hand to each of your sides.
  2. Toes flexed and pointing you in direction. Try to keep your spine, neck, and head in a straight line.
  3. Now, inhale and raise your both hand straight.
  4. Exhale to bend forward. Remember, your belly touching your thighs is more important than your nose touching your shin bone. This provides your spine a long stretch.
  5. Every exhale should bring your abdominal region to more close to your thighs. Hold here and maintain the posture for a few seconds.
  6. Deep extension in the forward bend gives your spine a stretched and straightened look.
  7. Inhale and slowly release the pose. Return into the dandasana.
  8. Perform this asana for improving forward bending on a regular basis.

Preparatory Poses 

  1. Baddhakonasana
  2. Uttanasana
  3. Balasana
  4. Janushirshasana

Benefits

Performing seated forward bend is considered beneficial especially in these conditions:

1. Regulate High Blood Pressure

Performing this asana impact the sympathetic nervous system in such a way that it slows down the heart rate.

Paschimottasana calms the mind and body to promote relaxation. Ultimately, it regulates high blood pressure.

2. Cures Diabetes

Performing paschimottanasana on regular basis can relief diabetic patients. It maintains the normal blood sugar level in the blood of a practitioner by activating respective endocrine glands and massaging the pancreas to secrete insulin.

3. Alleviate Stress and Anxiety

This asana has a tremendous effect on psychological disorders. Keeping a pace in breathing while holding the asana provides enough oxygen to the brain. This refreshed and relaxes it to relieve stress and anxiety.

4. Strengthens Reproductive System

The involvement of the pelvic region stimulates the reproductive system. Paschimottanasana increases the blood circulation in the pelvic region, which nourishes the cells.

Regular practice also decreases the chances of infertility.

5. Improves Digestion and Appetite

Forward bending massages the organs of the digestive system. This improves the process of digestion, which in turn promotes the appetite of the practitioner.

Contraindications

Avoid doing paschimottanasana in following conditions:

  1. Practitioners with back conditions such as; sciatica, low back pain, cervical disk rupture, should avoid performing this asana.
  2. Pregnant women should avoid this asana in the mid and the final period of pregnancy. It can be done in the Initial few weeks, without getting deep into the forward bend.
  3. Women during menstruating should avoid an extreme level of this pose. Not advisable in menstrual cramps.
  4. Practitioners with tight hamstrings should not perform this asana in one go. It could cause a muscle strain.

Precautions

  1. Paschimottanasana is the asana of forward bending series. So, make sure your stomach should be empty before practicing the asana.
  2. Do not bend your body forcibly. Overstraining your body could give rise to unnecessary injuries.
  3. Make sure the legs and toes should be flexed to activate the pose. This enhances the concentration of the practitioner towards pose.

Beginner’s Tips

  1. The closeness between belly and thighs needs deep exhale with a pause in holding. Beginners can inhale slowly to reduce stress.
  2. Performing a normal stretching or preparatory poses (balasana, shashankasana) would be a great choice to avoid any mishappening.
  3. Counter pose or follow up poses (ustrasana, bhujangasana) should be performed to minimize the effect of forward bend over the spine.

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