Seated Forward Bend
Paschimottanasana, the seated forward bend, is the fifth of the 12 basic postures of hatha yoga. There are many benefits of this posture, the main and most obvious one is to provide a complete stretch of the entire backside of the body from the back of the head through the heels. Immediately following this is the counterstretch, the inclined plane.
Traditional yoga texts say Seated Forward Fold — Paschimottanasana (PAH-shee-moh-tun-AHS-uh-nuh) — can cure disease. Modern yoga teachers agree this calming forward bend, literally translated as “Intense West Stretch,” helps to relieve stress and reduce fatigue. It stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. Additionally, it is reputed to be therapeutic for high blood pressure and infertility. Do not perform this pose if you have a back injury.
- Sit on the edge of a firm blanket with your legs extended in front of you. Beginners should bend the knees throughout the pose, straightening the legs only as flexibility increases.
- Inhale as you reach your arms out to the side, and then up overhead, lengthening your spine.
- Exhaling, bend forward from the hip joints. Do not bend at the waist. Lengthen the front of your torso. Imagine your torso coming to rest on your thighs, instead of tipping your nose toward your knees.
- Hold onto your shins, ankles, or feet — wherever your flexibility permits. You can also wrap a yoga strap or towel around the soles of your feet, holding it firmly with both hands. Keep the front of your torso long; do not round your back. Let your belly touch your legs first, and then your chest. Your head and nose should touch your legs last.
- With each inhalation, lengthen the front torso. With each exhalation, fold a bit deeper.
- Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, draw your tailbone towards the floor as you inhale and lift the torso.
Benefits: Seated forward fold provides a deep stretch for entire back side of body from the heels to the neck. Forward fold calms the nervous system and emotions and stimulates the reproductive and urinary systems.
- Stretches the hamstrings on the back of the legs
- Stretches and lengthens the entire spine
- Massages the internal organs, especially the digestive organs
- Relieves digestive problems such as constipation
- Relieves problems with sciatica
- Invigorates the nervous system