How to do Paschimottanasana and What are its Health Benefits

Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana is a Sanskrit word, consisted of three words: Paschima means West or Back, Uttana means intense stretch and Asana shows a yoga pose. 

The yoga pose is pronounced as POSH-ee-moh-tan-AHS-anna. Its different name is Seated Forward Bend, Intense Dorsal Stretch, Fierce or powerful pose and ugrasana. The Seated Forward Bend yoga is beneficial for all the body parts and organs. The yoga pose is good for weight loss.

The Paschimottanasana covers a whole lot of systems in the body and is particularly useful for diabetes and high blood pressure. This asana also gives the entire body a good stretch. 

How to do Paschimottanasana?

1. First of all, sit on the ground, stretching both the legs outward.

2. Toes should remain together pointing forward.

3. Now, Inhale, raise your arms and bend the body forward exhaling as far as possible.

4. While bending forward, do exhaling.

5. In the final stage, interlocked fingers should be beyond the toes and nose should touch the knees.

6. Initially, do it for 5 seconds and gradually try to maintain the pose as long as you feel comfortable.

7. Inhale and come to the original position.

8. This is one round. Initially, do two rounds.

9. As per your practice, you may increase the number of rounds as well as duration of maintaining the pose.

Health Benefits of Paschimottanasana

1. Lengthens the Hamstrings

The most obvious effect of Paschimottanasana is that it stretches the back of the leg. Tight hamstrings can often lead to a hunched, rounded posture and could be an indirect cause of back injury. If the muscles of the leg aren’t sufficiently elastic, it can also put a strain on the knee and hip joint. Paschimottanasana can help to maintain the legs natural range of motion.

 

2. Strengthens the Back

When performed in an active way, lengthening through the front of the body. Paschimottanasana is a great way to strengthen the erector spinae muscles of the lower back and help to encourage an energetic and upright posture.

 

3. Reduces anxiety and overwhelm

Paschimottanasana is one of the key poses of both Yin and Restorative Yoga. In these systems, it is performed in a passive variation, often with props placed under the sitting bones, under the knees or between the trunk and the legs. When held for a long period of time, this pose has a calming effect on the nervous system and encourages deep release and relaxation.

 

4. Prepares The Body For Meditation

Paschimottanasana encourages a strong, upright posture conducive to meditation. At the same time, it increases blood flow, which has an energizing effect and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a calm and focused mind. This combination of invigoration and relaxation is ideal for states of meditation.

 

5. Helps with Sleep

Since Paschimottanasana relaxes the nervous system, it can be used to help with symptoms of insomnia if used correctly. It’s important to do the pose restoratively, without pushing or pulling, and it’s also important to do it at least 2 hours before you intend to fall asleep. Because of the increased blood flow and the stimulation of the lower energy centers, the initial effects may be invigorating, and they will need some time to pass for sleep to come easily.

 

6. Stimulates Digestion and Appetite

According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Paschimottanasana “stimulates the gastric fire.” Though the evidence is anecdotal, most long-term yogis know from personal experience that a lot of forward bending stimulates both digestion and appetite. The pose gently massages the intestines and the organs of the abdominal region, helping to clear out blockages and relieve bloating.

 

7. Sexual Health

Performed correctly, with the engagement of the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis muscles of the lower abdomen, Paschimottanasana increases blood flow to the reproductive organs and can help to increase sexual vitality and relieve mild impotence.

 

8. Counteracts Obesity

It is said in numerous texts, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, that Paschimottanasana helps to remove the belly fat and can contribute to weight loss. It’s important to note that the best way to lose weight with yoga is a complete holistic practice that includes mindful diet and lifestyle choices. However, emphasizing forward bending postures may be helpful.

 

9. Relieves Menstrual Discomfort

By stimulating blood flow to the pelvic region, a gentle, restorative version of Paschimottanasana can help to relieve symptoms of cramping and bloating associated with menstruation. Try placing a bolster or pillow over your lap first to reduce pressure in the abdomen.

 

10. Encourages Contemplation and Self-reflection

There is a subtle energetic aspect of this pose that is easily overlooked. By drawing our attention to the back of the body and taking a bowed posture where the front of the body is drawn in on itself, we adopt a gesture of surrender and introversion. By focusing our attention away from the external world we can balance out some of the energies of striving and ambition that can help to feed our anxieties.

Beginner Tips

To perform paschimottanasana technically right is not an easy task. It requires practice of weeks and months. On the other hand, one shouldn’t bend forward beyond a certain limit otherwise it can cause severe back pain. Initially, one should bend forward as far as he feels comfortable. After developing back flexibility and back muscle suppleness, one will be able to perform paschimottanasana.

Contraindications

  • Those with a disc-related condition or sciatica should avoid this pose or enter it cautiously. Keep the back concaved to avoid further compression. 
  • Women who are menstruating or pregnant should not go all the way down to the legs but keep the back concaved with the feet apart and abdomen soft. Sit on a folded blanket if hamstrings are tight.

References : Link1 | Link2 | Link3 

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