Paschimottanasana due to its intense stretching effect on the whole back is also known by several other names such as seated forward bend back stretching pose and intense dorsal stretch. Practicing this asana invigorates muscles of spinal column and circulation of the nerves along with many other benefits. So let’s begin with the steps to practice Paschimottanasana.
Steps to practice Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
Starting position: Sit with the legs outstretched straight in front, feet together without touching each other. Back, neck and head straight and comfortable. Hands on the side, palms faced down resting on the floor behind the buttocks. Relax the whole body.
- Move your trunk forward from the pelvic region while sliding your hands towards the legs.
- Reach the feet using your hands. Aim to get a hold of the big toes with your thumb and fingers.
- If you successfully reach the big toes, grab ankles, heels or any other part of the feet that you can hold without applying force.
- If you don’t reach your feet, keep your hands the farthest you can comfortably.
- Remain in this position for a few seconds.Relax the muscles of the back and legs.
- Keep the legs straight; using the arms’ muscles gently extend the spine.Bring the trunk closer to the body while bending your elbows. If possible touch the forehead to the knees without using force.
- Remain in this position for as long as you feel comfortable. Take slow and deep breaths.
- To come back to starting position let go of the hold of feet/legs, raise the head and slowly move the trunk back using the muscles of the pelvic region.
Practice this asana 3 times, it should be practiced before or after a backward bending pose such as Chakrasana (Wheel Pose), Matsyasana (Fish Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) or Kandharasana (Shoulder Pose) to attain maximum benefits.
Precautions for Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
- While moving the trunk forward use the muscles of the pelvic region of the back, not the spine muscles. Initially, it won’t be easy for people having stiff muscles but with practice, it can be learned.
- While reaching for the big toes expand the arms from the shoulder but don’t use force to reach the big toes. The time differs from person to person to reach the final position depending on their flexibility and consistency they put into practice.
- 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)
- Tones and massages the organs of the pelvic and abdominal region such as pancreas, liver, kidneys, spleen, adrenal glands and gonad glands.
- Improves digestion, remove excess fat from the pelvic and abdominal region and increase the flexibility of the hip joints.
- Gives a good stretch to the spinal column, hamstring muscles and is beneficial for the heart.
- Helpful in curing impotency in males.
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