Seated Forward Fold aka Paschimottanasana literally translates to “Intense Stretch of The West” is a great counter pose to any backbend. It is a posture that also encourages the yogi to explore his/her internal environment.
Come to seated in dandasana with the legs extended out in front of you and the arms alongside the body. Engage the feet and press out through the heel.
*Modifications: For tight hamstrings and hips you can bend the knees or even place a rolled up blanket underneath them.
On an inhale, engage the core, extend the arms up towards the sky. Reach through the fingertips and lengthen the spine while drawing the shoulders away from the ears.
On an exhale, fold forward as if you wanted to rest the torso on the thighs. The bend should be initiated from the hip joint not the waist.
Keep lengthening the spine with every inhale. The feet remain active with the toes flexing towards the body. Imagine you are trying to get your heart to the toes and the toes to the heart.
**There is a tendency to round the spine in this pose and try to get your head lower to your legs. Avoid this desire and keep the focus on a long straight spine. Eventually your head will get lower and your spine will be healthier!
Grab a hold of your shins, ankles or feet depending on your flexibility but again don’t compromise the length of the spine. You can also use a towel or strap around the soles of the feet, holding either side firmly.
If you have enough flexibility the belly may touch the thighs first followed by the chest. The head and nose are last to touch the legs.
*Modifications: You may also place a block between the legs and rest your forehead on the block, but always keep the straight line in your spine.
With every inhale lengthen the spine and with every exhale bend a little deeper into the pose.
To release, come back to dandasana by drawing the tailbone into the earth, gently letting go of whatever you are holding onto and bringing the torso back to perpendicular to floor.
- Stretches spine, shoulders, hamstrings and pelvis
- Balances liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, ovaries and uterus
- Improves digestion
- Reduces anxiety
- Relieves insomnia
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, insomnia, infertility and sinusitis
- Back injury