Paschimottanasana - Seated forward bend pose
The name Paschimotanasana comes from Sanskrit, paschima meaning “back of body” and uttana meaning “straight/extended” or “intense stretch”, and asana meaning “posture”. This asana is worth spending time on if you want a nice stretch for your hamstring and give your brain a relaxing moment. Stay in the present, breathe and challenge yourself!
Let’s get ready for an upside down paschimotanasana! Start by laying on your back on your matt. Bend your legs and press your back towards the ground. On a inhale extend your legs towards the ceiling. Slowly bend from your hip as your legs are straightened. Legs towards the ceiling above your head. If this feels too hard, then bend your legs to be able to reach the ground with your toes. Don’t forget to take it step by step and remember to focus on your breathing even if it can feel a bit uncomfortable. In each exhale, try to go a little bit deeper in your movement.
Step by step guide:
Roll out your matt and bring a towel or a blanket to be prepared if you need it.
Start in a seated position with your legs straight and close to each other. Flex your feet and keep an extra focus on having a straight back.
From here, inhale as you lean forward towards your legs with straight arms. Remember to fold from your hip and not from your waist. Make sure you’ve engaged your core pressing your groins towards your pelvis.
If this is easy, go further down towards your legs. It doesn’t matter how deep you go in the pose, don’t force yourself to go further if it hurts.
If you're holding your feet, then bend your elbows to go deeper down.
Continuously lengthen and go deeper into the posture.
Stay in the pose for 1-4 minutes. Breathe, and try to stay here in the present.
Modifications and beginner tips
If the posture is a bit too hard, try it with a folded blanket or a towel underneath your butt. You can also use a strap to help you lengthen is the posture. This posture is not about pushing yourself to the limit, is about finding that fine line between comfortable and challenging yourself.
It’s easy to cheat to get a little bit further, but try to have a straight back as you slowly step by step get more flexible. If it's too hard to have a straight back, then bend your legs and keep your back straight. Day by day and class by class, you will be able to straighten your legs more.
Child pose: A yogis best resting pose, that gives you space and peace in a practice or just any time of the day.
Head-to-knee forward bend: Also a bending asana but with a twist. Great pose to prepare yourself for paschimotanasana and stretch one leg at the time.
Standing forward bend: Just as paschimotanasana but with feet on the ground and stand up. This can be both easier and harder than sitting down because you have to make sure to keep your balance.
Magical asana for relaxation as your this posture helps your brain to relax as it is stress relieving.
If you have problems with a headache, you should try this posture.
Improves your digestion.
Stretches your spine, hamstrings, and shoulders. Try this posture especially if you are spending hours in front of a computer in school or work to extend your range of motion.
Stimulates your inner organs: kidneys, liver, ovaries, and uterus.
Can be helpful if you are suffering from insomnia. Because this is a stress relieving posture as you are giving your brain and body stillness, it can also give you a nice sleep. If you are struggling with stress and are occupied by thoughts and anxiety, try to do this posture before going to bed. It might be helpful!
First of all, listen to your body. A seated forward bend pose might feel uncomfortable at first but this will get easier as you practice. Be careful if you have a back injury or if your neck is hurting. You can always ask the yoga teacher if this is a posture you are doing during class. We are always here to find different variations that might suit you better, or give you tips on the way. This posture can also be hard to do if you have asthma and it's therefore extra important to check in with your body how it feels and if you're able to breathe in and out through your nose.