- How to Do Seated Forward Bend Yoga or Paschimottanasana
- Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes
- Also known as: intense dorsal stretch
- Targets: Hamstrings, calves, back
- Type : Sitting
Seated Forward Bend or Paschimottanasana is a seated forward-bending asana in Hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise. This Paschimottanasana helps to increase height, improves digestion, increase spine length, strong and flexible spinal cord etc.
Paschimottanasana is illustrated in the Manuscript of the Jogapradipika in Hindu scriptures.
The pose is described in the 15th-century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 1, verses 28-29.
The term “Paschimottanasana” comes from the Sanskrit words
paschima meaning “west” or “the back of the body”;
uttana meaning “intense stretch” or “straight” or “extended”;
asana meaning “posture” or “seat”.
How to Do Seated Forward Bend Yoga or Paschimottanasana correctly
Step-by-Step Instructions to practice Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
(1). Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose): Sit with the legs outstretched straight in front, feet together without touching each other. Back, neck and head straight and comfortable. Keep both hands on the side, palms facing down. Palms should be resting on the floor behind the buttocks. Now, relax your whole body.
(2). Inhale and draw your spine up long alon with your arms straight out to the sides and up over your head, reaching toward the ceiling.
(3). Now, begin to come forward, while you exhale, i.e. move your trunk forward from the pelvic region while sliding your hands towards the legs, hinging at your hips.
(4). Reach the feet using your hands. Take hold of your big toes, ankles or shins, whichever you can reach, with your thumbs or grab it with your index fingers.
- If you successfully hold your big toes, grab heels, ankles, or any other part of the feet that you can hold without applying force.
- If you can’t reach your feet, keep your hands the farthest you can.
(5). Remain in this position for as long as you feel comfortable. Take slow and deep breaths. Relax the muscles of the back and legs.
(6). Keep your legs straight; using the arms’ muscles gently extend the spine. Bring your chest closer to the body while bending your elbows. Try to touch your knees with your forehead, without using force.
(7). To return back to the initial position, let leave the hold of your legs, raise your head and slowly move your chest back using the muscles of the pelvic region.
(8). On each inhale, lengthen your spine; and on each exhale, try holding the big toes for some more seconds, to unleash your full potential.
Practice this asana 3-4 times , each followed by Shavasana.
Modifications and Variations of Paschimottanasana
(a). Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana
A combination of Paschimottanasana and Ubhaya Padangusthasana, which is known to open the svadhisthana(sacral) chakra
(b). Parivritta Paschimottanasana
A combination of a twist and a forward bend, bringing an intense stretch to the muscles of the chest, abdomen, back and shoulders.
Tips to remove common mistakes
- Keep your knees aligned, Do not bend them. Bending of knees lessens the stretch of of your hamstrings and puts the stress closer to your joints.
- Keep your back straight, for as long as you can. This helps to get full breaths.
- If your back is too rounded at first, place a blanket or a bolster on your shins in order to support your forehead. You can also add height with a blanket or two under the buttocks if your lower back is fragile.
- For a deeper forward extension and to lengthen the space between the pubis and the navel, roll a blanket tightly and place in the fold of the front groins and then henge over towards the knees.
- In the process of touching the big toes, while bending forward, You can also use a strap around your feet.
This Yogasana results best, before or after a backward bending pose such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Chakrasana (Wheel Pose) or Kandharasana (Shoulder Pose) to attain maximum benefits of Paschimottanasana.
Safety and Precautions while doing Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your hips, arms, shoulders or ankles. Don’t force yourself in this pose. Initially, it takes time for people having stiff muscles but with practice, it is achievable.
While bending for the big toes, expand the arms from the shoulder. Don’t apply force to reach the big toes. It takes time to reach the final bending position and touching the big toes. It depends on one’s flexibility and consistency one puts into practice.
This pose becomes easy on an empty stomach because it involves compression of abdomen.
This asana should not be practiced in case the person suffers from any of this condition: sciatica slipped disc and hernia.
Benefits of Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
This asana helps to stretch and helps open up your hips. This stretching Yogasana is excellent for runners who tend to have tight hamstrings. It is a calming pose. This pose magically relieve stress and improve your mood.
It removes constipation , Improves digestion; helps in treating impotence; Activates the lazy liver; tones the liver, bladder and pancreas; Soothes the adrenal glands; Calms the active front brain; Stimulates spinal nerves and back muscles as well as the reproductive system such as the ovaries and uterus.
Paschimottanasana is good for people suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. For best results Paschimottanasana, should be practiced early in the morning on an empty stomach. It is important to make sure that the bowels are empty before practicing the pose.
People suffering from asthma, diarrhea, hernia and back injury should refrain from practicing this Yoga pose.
Top 7 health benefits of Paschimottanasana or seated forward bend pose
(1). Improves Reproduction and Enhances Blood Flow to the Pelvic Region
Daily practice of Paschimottanasana increases blood circulation to the pelvic region thereby nourishing the organs in the lower part of the body. This helps to create quantitative and qualitative Sperms in male.
This Yogasana helps people suffering from lack of sexual desire, impotence and infertility.
This pose is a boom for the women, giving birth, as it encourages healing.
(2). Improves Digestion by stimulating internal organs
Majority of the forward fold asanas increases the blood circulation. Likewise, Paschimottanasana increases blood circulation to all the major abdominal organs such as the kidneys, intestines, liver and pancreas. This boosts metabolism as well as improves digestion ability.
(3). Soothes the Nervous System
The spinal cord is a crucial part of the nervous system that consists of infinite nerves, dendrons, dendrites, etc. When you perform Paschimottanasana, the spinal cord gets stretching sensation and a space is created between the vertebras. This space gives passage to increase blood circulation to all the nerves. This, soothes the nervous system. With daily practice of the pose, yogis are able to look inward and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Yogis attains Enlightenment.
(4). Fully Stretches the Backside
Yoga Gurus and Experts from all over the world recommend Paschimottanasana to those suffering from back pain, stiffness, tight hamstring etc. The reason being, the Seated Forward Bend pose stretches the entire back.
Regular practice of the pose increases flexibility and strength of the spine. This asana is also effective in releasing tension from the neck, upper back and lower back.
(5). Cools the Body and Calms the Mind
This pose helps to transport fresh blood to the head helping the mind to relax and reduces insomnia, depression and worry. The fresh blood helps to rejuvenate the mind. This helps in cooling the body and calming the mind
(6). Promotes Fat Burn in the Belly Region
It helps in attaining a flat belly. One of the best health benefits of this pose is its fat burning process in the belly region. People with belly fat find it extremely challenging to reduce those excess pounds of weight from their abdominal region.
Paschimottanasana easily burns those extra fat stored in the abdominal region. It involves fat burning through the stretches and pressures associated with the pose.
(7). Relieves Tightness from the Hamstrings
Tightness and pain in the hamstrings result from bad posture while seating. Tight hamstrings increase the stiffness and pain over a period of time, which makes it hard for the person to concentrate on work or do his chores easily.
With the regular practice of Paschimottanasana, a yoga practitioner is able to stretch the body’s entire hamstring. The muscles become relaxed and they perform to their optimal level. This asana helps with the smooth blood flow in the region.
Seated Forward Bend or Paschimottanasana is a classic pose from Hatha yoga. Paschimottanasana is the most popular pose among yogis and yoga enthusiast all over the world. Try and include it in your daily yoga practice for a healthy body, sharp mind and pure sole.