Seated Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana is a calming yoga pose that helps to relieve stress. This pose is often practiced later in a sequence, when the body is warm. It also helps to prepare the practitioner for even deeper poses, such as One Leg Behind Head Pose (Eka Pada Sirsasana) and Sleeping Yogi Pose (Yoganidrasana). “Paschima” means your “back” and “Uttana” means “stretching“. This asana covers the stretching of the whole body from head to heels so it is called as Paschimottanasna.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. If you don’t have the flexibility to do the pose in correct alignment, be sure to practice with a strap or with a bolster under your knees until you can fold without over-rounding your spine. Also avoid practicing this pose if you are currently suffering from asthma or diarrhea. People with back injuries should only practice this pose with the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable teacher.
How To Do The Paschimottanasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping the spine erect and toes flexed toward you.
- Breathing in, raise both arms above your head and stretch up.
- Breathing out, bend forward from the hip joints, chin moving toward the toes. Keep the spine erect focusing on moving forwards towards the toes, rather than down towards the knees.
- Place your hands on your legs, wherever they reach, without forcing. If you can, take hold of your toes and pull on them to help you go forward.
- Breathing in, lift your head slightly and lengthen your spine.
- Breathing out, gently move the navel towards the knees.
- Repeat this movement two or three times.
- Drop your head down and breathe deeply for 20-60 seconds.
- Stretch the arms out in front of you.
- Breathing in, with the strength of your arms, come back up to the sitting position.
- Breathe out and lower the arms.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Emphasize lengthening the front of your torso, instead of just trying to touch your nose to your knees. Make sure you are folding at the hips, not at the waist. Bend your knees or use a strap. Then, work on keeping your torso long as you straighten your legs and reach through your heels.
- Aim to bring your belly to your thighs, rather than your head to your knees.
- Never force yourself into a forward bend. Only come as far forward as you can, while keeping your spine long. It might not be as far as you’re used to, but remember: It’s more important to keep spinal integrity than to touch your nose to your knees!
Never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. Coming forward, as soon as you feel the space between your pubis and navel shortening, stop, lift up slightly, and lengthen again. Often, because of tightness in the backs of the legs, a beginner’s forward bend doesn’t go very far forward and might look more like sitting up straight.
Modifications & Variations
ry these changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If your hamstrings or low back are tight, bend your knees. If you’re very stiff, you can place a bolster or rolled-up blanket under your knees. Most beginners should hold a strap around their feet, as well.
- If you are extremely stiff and can’t even begin the pose, try lying on your back in Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani). This will begin to open the hip joint and hamstrings in a passive way, rather than pushing too hard, which can over-strain the muscles and lead to even greater inflexibility.
- If it’s easy to clasp your hands around the soles of your feet, you can deepen the pose by placing a block at the soles of the feet and holding that, instead.
- Some yoga styles will have you clasp your big toes with your first two fingers, while others allow for variations on the clasp. There is no right or wrong style, but if you’re in a class, follow the direction your teacher gives — he or she is instructing you that way for a reason!
Benefits Of The Paschimottanasana
- It acts as a stress reliever.
- Reduces fatty deposits in the abdomen.
- Remove anxiety, anger and irritability.
- Calms the mind.
- Stretches the spine and brings flexibility.
- Good for constipation and digestive disorder.
- Useful for increasing height.
- Regular practice cure impotency and enhance the sexual power.
- Tones the abdominal pelvic organs.
- Balance the menstrual cycles.
- This asana is recommended especially for women after delivery.
Though Paschimottanasana can feel “intense,” it can be easy to push your body too much, seeking more intense sensations as signs of progress. Be careful not to misinterpret painful, sharp, or piercing sensations as positive signs! Back off if you are injuring yourself.