Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Bend - YanvaYoga

Contents

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) is a classic pose from Hatha yoga. The name Paschimottanasana translates to “Intense Stretch of The West,” symbolizing the end of a practice traditionally performed while facing the rising sun.

The term “Paschim” refers to the West side, representing the entire back of the body from the head to the heels. In Paschimottanasana, the focus is on a deep stretch of the back body, including the spine. This pose involves sitting with both legs extended straight on the ground, holding the big toes with your hands, and placing the forehead on the knees, creating a forward bend while seated.

True to its name, Seated Forward Bend provides a profound stretch to the dorsal area of the back, including the spine and muscles. This stretching action helps to unlock the spine and strengthen the muscles of the back.

Pose Detail

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Start in Dandasana and gently press your sitting bones into the floor (or your prop). Engage your lower belly by drawing it in and lifting it up.
Step 2
As you take a deep breath in, lengthen your spine, creating space between each vertebra.
Step 3
On your exhale, fold forward from the hips, maintaining a straight back. Be mindful not to over-fold or strain yourself.
Step 4
Keep the front of your body elongated and move sequentially from your belly, through your ribcage, chest, and finally your forehead towards your legs.
Step 5
Allow your arms to glide down along the floor. If your hands can reach your feet, wrap your first two fingers and thumbs around your big toes. Bend your elbows, keeping them lifted away from the floor and pointing out to the sides. Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears. In case you can't reach your feet, use a strap looped around the soles of your feet. Hold the strap with both hands and keep your arms extended.
Step 6
To deepen the pose, with each inhalation, lengthen the front of your torso and slightly lift your head. With each exhalation, explore the possibility of folding deeper while maintaining a long spine and hinging from the hips. Ensure that your neck remains aligned with your spine. If you are using a strap, gradually walk your hands down the strap as you move deeper into the pose, while keeping your arms straight.

Benefits and Contraindications

Benefits

Balances liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, ovaries and uterus

Stretches spine, shoulders, hamstrings and pelvis

Therapeutic for high blood pressure, insomnia, infertility and sinusitis

Improves digestion

Relieves insomnia

Reduces anxiety

Contraindications

Asthma

Diarrhea

Back injury

Pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimester requires modifications)

Photo poses in different angles

Modifications, Props & Tips

  • If you are suffering from a herniated or compressed disc in the lower or middle back, or any other spinal issues (e.g. sciatica, SI-joint instability), be careful with this pose.
  • If you are allowed to do forward bends by your physician, work on creating the movement from your pelvis and keep your spine as
    straight as possible (so do not round your nose to your knee).
  • If the lower back is tight, you can open your legs hip-width apart.
  • For tight hamstrings, you can bend your knees and support them with a block or folded blanket.

Frequently Asked Questions

Variations

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Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings. After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva. To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics. Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga. At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.