Paschimottanasana - Seated Forward Fold - Back Stretching Pose
Performing this postureSit with your legs outstretched, feet together and hands on knees.
Check that you can sit comfortably, with a lift that is tall and upright through your spine with your legs straight, if you find you are leaning back and curling the pelvis under, or if there is any pain or tension in your lower back or hamstrings, it would be safer for you to practice with your knees bent. You may be more comfortable with a yoga block placed under your hips.
Be sure to draw the toes towards you and allow the heals to press gently into the floor.
Your legs are parallel and the toes are pointing towards the ceiling.
Slowly bend forward from the hips, keeping a natural length in your spine, by drawing softly in the public bone, and the lower rib, whilst gently lengthening up through the collar bones; to allow the shoulder blades to slide effortlessly down your back.
Allow your lower ribs to rest comfortably onto your thighs. Your lower ribs should remain in contact with the thighs throughout the performance of the posture.
Allow yourself to be comfortable. You can measure this by ensuring your breath feels smooth and steady with no feeling of constriction or restriction around the breath.
The edges of the body should gently soften and lengthen into each inhalation, as you imagine the breath passing through the skin.
Now let your body relax into each exhalation; only moving deeper into the pose when you feel the edges of your body relaxing into nothingness.
Flow into and out of this posture a few times and then allow yourself to hold the posture, while breathing softly and smoothly for a few rounds of breath.
Let your mind dissolve into the sensations of gentle expansion and the deep connection to stillness that this pose evokes.
Physical BenefitsThis asana stretches the hamstrings and increases flexibility within the hips and legs. The abdomen is strengthened and the internal organs are compressed and massaged.
The spinal column lengthens and the rib cage gently expands within each breath, allowing greater movement and a rejuvenation of those areas of the body.
Emotional BenefitsWhen resting completely into this posture, the gaze is turned inwards as the eyes look down towards the tip of the nose. This helps to calm the mind as the focus is drawn away from external distractions.
Once you can lie down comfortably and completely onto your legs, you may like to turn the gaze upwards towards the eyebrows. This will help you to lengthen the spine further. You can then experience a lengthening from tailbone to the top of the pallet and back again as you breath.
A lengthening of the exhalation is promoted due to the forward motion of the posture, which gives rise to a feeling of deep inner peace.
Cautions and Contra-indications.Students who have a slipped disc or who are suffering from sciatica should not perform this posture.
As with all yoga postures, it is best to seek the guidance of an experienced teacher when attempting any posture that is new to you, or if you suffer from any injury or illness you feel may impact on the safety of your practice.
Pregnant women should not draw up the abdomen in any asana but may practice a seated forward fold, softly and with knees bent and legs apart; and under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.
*Yoga Freedom is not liable for any loss or injury sustained due to the guidance given in this article.