Paschimottanasana - Intense back stretch
Sanskrit: Pashima - west or back, Uttan - intense stretching, asana – pose
Paschimottanasana is often referred to as ‘seated forward bend’ for the sake of simplicity.
- Level: Beginner
- Duration: a few seconds and slowly increase to 5 minutes
- Repetition: up to 5 rounds
- Stretches: calves, buttocks, back muscles and hamstrings
- Strengthens: hips and arms
- Chakra: Swadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)
♥ Makes the hips flexible
♥ Massages and activates the abdominal organs (liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands)
♥ Helps reducing overweight
♥ Strengthens the nerves and muscles in the spine
♥ Stimulates digestion
♦ Slipped disc
Instructions for Paschimottanasana
- Sit with your legs stretched out. Feet together and hands on the knees. The spine is erect. This is the starting position.
- Relax the whole body and breathe calmly and deeply.
- Exhale and slowly lean forward from the hips. The hands slide on the legs towards the feet. The back stays straight.
- If possible, grasp the big toes with your fingers. Otherwise, keep your hands on the heels, the ankles or the shin bones.
- Inhale and hold this position for a few seconds. Relax the back and leg muscles. Feel the stretch in the back and legs.
- Keep the legs straight and use the arm muscles (not the back muscles) to intensify the stretch. Exhale, bend the elbows and bring the upper body closer to the legs. Try to touch the knees with your forehead without straining. That's the end position. Breathe calmly and deeply.
- Initially only hold this position for a few seconds and slowly increase the time span to five minutes.
- Breathe in and return to the starting position.
Science behind Paschimottanasana
Paschimottanasana massages the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Thus, this pose helps the digestive, excretory, immune and endocrine systems. Paschimottanasana helps to develop patience, dedication, and flexibility (both physical and mental). If you hold the position longer, it shows an effect on Sushumna. Paschimottanasana allows advanced yogis to awaken their kundalini and gradually expanding their consciousness.
Note: Yoga beginners should first learn all yoga practices from a competent teacher and then practice alone.