What is Paschimottanasna?
Paschimottasana is an important asana in yoga. You will hear the name Seated Forward Bend, associated with it. ‘Paschim’ means ‘west’, whereas ‘Uttana’ means ‘stretching’. It offers a full body stretch, that results in the lengthening of your spine. You have to enter this asana, through the Dandasana. This pose requires the practitioner to bend from the waist and stretch the hands to hold the feet or toes, whichever is comfortable. One can find a mention of this yoga asana in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Shiva Samhita.
Seated Forward Bend Pose Step-By-Step:
- You have to start from Dandasana or the Staff pose. Sit with both your legs stretched in front of you while keeping the spine straight.
- Inhale and slowly raise both arms above the head.
- Exhale and then slowly bend forward from the waist.
- You have to fold the body, as you do a full exhalation. Moreover, you have to ensure to move towards the toes, and not the knees.
- Stretch the arms as far as you can in front of you, and try to hold the toes or the entire feet.
- Once you are comfortable doing this, you will be able to place your forehead on the knees.
- While doing this asana, you have to concentrate on the elongation of the spine. Once you start visualizing it, you will be actually enforcing the lengthening process.
- Hold the position for some time. 5-10 breaths are ideal. The breath should be free-flowing.
- Slowly return back to your original seated position. Bring the arms by your side. And sit for some time.
- You can repeat the pose again.
Modifications and Variations (Paschimottanasana)
This asana looks quite easy. However, you may face a few challenges initially. It is best practiced in under-trained individuals.
You can modify the posture in several ways. Know about the same here.
- If you have tight hamstrings, you may find it difficult to touch the feet. So, ideally, you should flex the feet, and bend the knees. Do this a number of times, and then try to hold the toes. Do not exert unnecessary pressure.
- If you have a problem with a protruding abdomen, you can keep the legs hip-distance apart. Moreover, you can also bend your knees a bit. This will ease the pressure from the abdomen. Now, you can hold the feet.
- You should try to lift the pelvis slightly. Use a blanket or cushion underneath, for ease. Your spine should be straight, and not hunched when you do this pose.
You can also try the Urdhwa Paschimottasana, which is quite common today. In this pose, you have to lie straight on your back. Inhale and then stretch the legs towards the ceiling. Exhale and bring the feet back near your head. All this while, you have to ensure not to lift the back of the pelvis from the floor. You can use straps and cushions to help you out.
Tips for Paschimottanasana:
- If you are a beginner, you should not rush into the pose. Be a bit relaxed.
- You also need to ensure not to hunch, too much.
- You can activate the core muscles, by pulling the abdomen in, before you attempt the forward fold.
- Ideally, you should be keeping the legs stretched. But, if you have problems with your abdomen, you must fold the knees. Then lower the head. After you have done that, attempt to stretch the legs again.
- You can keep the legs hip-width apart if you have issues with the forward fold.
- You have to remember to breathe deeply, as you continue to practice the pose.
- If the knees feel stiff, you can use a yoga blanket beneath. You can use all kinds of props to help you out.
If you are a beginner, you can hold the asana or pose for 1-2 minutes. For more seasoned individuals, you can hold the pose for 2-10 minutes.
Benefits of Paschimottanasana (the Seated Forward bend)
- This is one of the best asanas for teenagers, who want to gain height quickly. The reason is, that the asana offers a full body stretch. You can feel the pressure from head to toe.
- If you practice this asana regularly, you can correct your body posture.
- The practice of this asana impacts the central nervous system. It leads to the calming of the brain cells and lowers stress and anxiety.
- The forward bending movement and relaxation impact the abdomen, thus giving a good massage to the organs for digestion. Thus, you will notice your metabolic rate increasing in no time, and your digestive issues will also vanish.
- It also aids in curing menstrual pain and discomfort. If you have irregular periods, you will be able to regularize them, through regular practice of Paschimottasana.
- You can also manage PCOS and PCOD, through the regular practice of this asana.
- If you suffer from sleep disorders, you can practice this asana. It will help you to sleep well.
- You can also get rid of Diabetes if you practice this asana regularly. It massages the organs inside the abdomen, which impacts the secretion of insulin. The excess blood glucose is also eliminated faster.
- The regular practice of this asana can help in correcting Erectile Dysfunction in men.
- If you want to lose excess body fat, you can practice this asana. It impacts the middle part of the body and also speeds metabolism as already stated.
- Your shoulders also get toned.
- The vertebrae in your neck region are also toned.
- This is a great counter pose, for any back-bending pose, like Dhanurasana.
Thus, you can get multiple benefits from practicing this asana. It does appear slightly challenging at first. But as you practice, it will be easy. You will simply sink into the pose. However, you should always keep in mind, the tips for practice.
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