Yogendra Paschimottanasana (the posterior stretch.)

The word ‘paschim’ meaning ‘west’ is used in the context of posterior of the body and ‘uttana’ for stretching. The need for spinal fitness is obvious. The practice of this Asana and its final form also brings about a sense of achievement with humility.

Paschimottanasana Dynamic Variation:

Starting position: Sit on a mat with legs fully stretched and toes facing upwards. Keep the spine erect, shoulders and neck firm in its place. Hands besides the body, palms facing down.

The sequence of steps for Paschimottanasana :

  1. Raise both the arms beside the chest, folded at the elbows, parallel to the ground, palms facing down.
  2. Now lean back and pull the trunk, in 3 seconds, while inhaling.
  3. Immediately, exhaling smoothly in 3 seconds, bend forward and simultaneously stretch the hands to cross the toes while drawing in the abdomen.
  4. Immediately, come back to the position explained in step 1, in 3 seconds, while inhaling.

Recommended practice: Repeat the above steps, (as if one is rowing a boat), 3 to 4 times, without pause. At the end of the round, come to the centre position and rest the arms by the side to assume starting position.

Static Practice:

Starting position: Same as above.

The sequence of steps for Paschimottanasana :

  1. Raise both the arms beside the chest, folded at the elbows, parallel to the ground, palms facing down. Inhale normally.
  2. Exhaling, bend forward and simultaneously arching the spine, the abdomen is drawn in, stretch the hands to hold the big toe.
  3. Gently pull the elbows down to touch the ground and bend the head to bring the forehead to the knees.
  4. Rest the forehead in the space between the knees and maintain this posture, breathing normally (final position).
  5. Return to starting position: Raise the head and letting off the toes, gently straighten the back and bring the hands to the sides.

Recommended practice: Practice once–maintain the final position for 30 seconds, gradually taking it up to 1/2 minutes with regular practice. Breathing should be normal–slow and rhythmic.

Limitations/ Contraindications:

  1. A hernia, hypertension, heart ailments, pregnancy, peptic ulcers and abdominal inflammations
  2. Hyperthyroid, serious spinal disorders, myopia, glaucoma and serious eye disorders.
  3. Dynamic variation can be performed by all, to individual capacity.

Benefits of Paschimottanasana:

  • The posterior stretch to spine helps in correcting minor deformities of the curvature of the spine and improves blood circulation.
  • Deep intra-abdominal compression massages the abdominal viscera– provides relief in conditions related to constipation, weak digestion, sluggish liver.
  • Stretches the superficial and deep muscles of the legs, shoulders and the back.
  • Regular practice prevents recurrence of spinal problems.
  • Helps in cases of sciatica and lumbago.
  • Strengthens the sense of surrender, dedication and commitment.

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