At a Glance
Paschimottanasana directly translates to stretching or rising westwards. In the Ancient Language, the heavenly directions refer to different parts of the body. This association derives from the tradition of prayers being directed eastwards. The Sitting Forward Bend evenly stretches and energizes the entire back of the body, including its main energy channel, Sushumna Nadi. This combination makes the posture fundamental for healing and makes it known for increasing lifespan and boosting vitality. Furthermore, if the pose is held masterfully for several hours, it is said to raise consciousness to an extraordinary level.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Sit with the feet and legs together, stretched out in front.
It is recommended to relieve the flesh from the buttocks (sideways and backward), so that the sitting bones directly touch the floor.
Lengthen the spine. Bend forward from the hips with an elongated spine, leading with the chest.
Upon reaching the limit of bending forward from the pelvis, allow the back to relax downward, and pull the shoulders slightly backward.
Finally, interlock the hands around the feet or catch hold of the big toes, but avoid the rolling inward of the inner edges of the feet. Slightly flex the feet, with toes pointing toward the body.
Activate the core muscles, inhale, slowly releasing the pose by carefully straightening the spine.
Sit at the edge of a folded blanket or flat pillow to induce hip flexion.
Pregnant women place their legs apart to create space for the belly.
- Stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility in the hip joints.
- Stretches the spine and shoulders.
- Stimulates circulation to the nerves and muscles of the spine.
- Stimulates liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, ovaries, and uterus.
- The Root Chakra is activated.
- Unites Prana and Apana Vayu.
- Energizes the legs.
- Bestows endurance, and generally increases vitality and longevity.
- If practiced for periods of several hours with the proper meditative attitude, it can even lead to lower states of Samadhi.
- Calms the brain and settles the mind.
- Helps relieve stress.
- Soothes anxiety and reduces fatigue.
- Helps with the management of mild depression and insomnia.
- (Lower) back conditions such as inflammations or injuries
- Slipped discs
- Pregnancy: modified practice after first trimester
"Spread the two legs on the ground, stiff like a stick (the heels not touching), and place the forehead on the two knees, and catch with the hands the toes. This is called the Paschimottana-Asana."
- Gheranda Samhita (transl. Chandra Vasu).