Seated Forward Bend / Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana is the fifth posture in the sequence. It is considered to be one of the most important postures and should be included in every practice. It is also called the Posture of Surrender. The more you can relax and surrender in this posture, the deeper it will take you. Maximize the efficiency of the posture by keeping the legs straight and toes pointed upwards.

Benefits:

  • Stretches entire back of the body
  • Alleviates muscular and nervous tension in the back, and helps correct lower back curvature
  • Massages and stimulates all abdominal organs
  • Helps regulate pancreatic functions, which control blood sugar levels
  • Improves mobility of the joins, keeping the body youthful
  • Helps prevent compression of the spine and sciatica

Instructions:

  1. Come up to a seated position, legs together and straight in front, feet flexed. Move the flesh away from the sit bones. Keep the spine straight.
  2. Inhale, stretch the arms up above the head.
  3. Exhale, with a flat back reach forward as much as possible. Place the hands wherever they comfortably fall on the legs. Keep the legs straight and feet flexed. If you can reach your toes, wrap the index finger and thumb around the big toe.
  4. Breathe deeply into the lower back, relaxing the neck, shoulders, and entire body as much as possible. Allow gravity to pull you down. Inhale, lengthen the spine, exhale, fold deeper.
  5. Hold at least 30 seconds and up to 5 minutes. Surrender.
  6. To release reach out toward/past the toes, inhale, stretch the arms forward and up.
  7. Exhale, place the hands behind the back, fingers pointed away for Inclined Plane, the counter posture. Inhale, lift the hips up and bring the toes towards the ground. Hold as long as comfortable, then exhale and release.
  8. Relax in Makarasana. Lay on the abdomen, make a pillow with the hands and place one cheek on the pillow. Big toes are touching.

Tips:

  • If you cannot sit up straight with the legs extended on the floor, you may sit on a small cushion or blanket to elevate the hips.
  • It is not important to bring the head towards the legs/knees, the abdomen should come towards the thighs. Keep the spine in alignment even if you cannot come very far forward, you will get more benefits. Relax the head, neck and shoulders.
  • Do not bend the knees while holding the pose. Though if initially you want to try and come a little deeper you may bend your knees, bring the abdomen towards the thighs and then straighten the legs.

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