Home 9 Yoga Poses 9 Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

The Story Behind the Name:

Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend

(POSH-ee-moh-tan-AHS-anna) is one of the earliest-known yoga poses and a classic pose from Hatha yoga that is often practiced later in a sequence, when the body is warm.

Paschimottanasana gives the whole back of your body a good stretch, from your calves to your hamstrings to your spine and it also helps to prepare the practitioner for even deeper poses.

Paschimottanasana is also considered to be a calming pose and it is said that this pose can help relieve stress and even improve your mood.

Paschimottanasana  comes from four Sanskrit words:

  • “Paschima” — meaning “west”
  • “Ut” — meaning “intense”
  • “Tan” — meaning “to stretch”
  • “Asana” — meaning “pose”

Paschimottanasana’s Sanskrit name translates to “Intense West Stretch” and it is believed that ancient yogis would practice yoga facing the sunrise and Paschimottanasana would deeply stretch the entire back, or “west,” side of their bodies as they folded forward toward the sun.

Paschimottanasana  is also commonly referred to as “Seated Forward Fold” or “Seated Forward Bend.”

Difficulty Level: 

  • Basic

Drishti point: 

  • The Toes

Technical details and how to start: 

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you.
  • Keep your spine erect and toes flexed toward you.
  • Inhale and raise both your arms above your head and stretch up.
  • Exhale and bend forward and extend your torso over your legs, keeping the spine erect and catch and hold of your shins, (position A) or ankles or the big toes with your thumb and two fingers (position B).
  • Inhale and slightly lift your head and elongate the spine.
  • Exhale and bring your navel towards the knees.
  • Stay for five breaths or longer. 
  • Inhale and raise up as you stretch up your arms above your head.
  • Exhale and bring your hands down.

Health Benefits: 

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.
  • Soothes headache and anxiety, and reduces fatigue.
  • Decreases appetite.

Beginner’s tips

  • If a beginner hold a strap around the feet or catch the shins (Position A).
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Engage your thigh muscles and slightly rotate your thighs inwards to spread your sitting bones, giving yourself more room to fold forward.
  • If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Safety Precautions

  • Avoid this pose if you are currently experiencing asthma or diarrhea
  • Avoid this pose if you have a back injury or only practice this pose with the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable teacher
  • Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your arms, hips, ankles, or shoulders.
  • If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Please Note:

People who decide to start practising Yoga and who are suffering from any cardiac problem, asthma, back pain, high blood pressure, neck, shoulder or spine injury or any other health related issue, should consult a doctor before starting any yogic activities and eliminate the positions that are not suitable for their particular case. Also, some particular asanas such as inversion asanas are not recommended for female practitioners who are menstruating.

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