Breaking down the specifics of Paschimottanasana…this is your official “How To.”
- Sit up straight with your legs together, stretched out in front of you. Point both feet straight up towards the ceiling.
- Be sure you are sitting straight up on the sitbones with your spine straight. Many people benefit at this point by removing the flesh from underneath the sitbones so as to help remove curvature in the spine.
- Inhale, and stretch your arms up over your head.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips (leading with your heart) keeping your spine as elongated as possible and reaching towards your feet with your hands as you come down.
- Try to avoid a lot of curvature in middle part of the spine. It is best to keep the spine long and as straight as possible, although not rigid, and bend from the hip area.
- Be sure to keep the feet pointed straight up towards the ceiling and together.
- Once in position, you can gently pull with the arms on your strap (wrapped around your feet), the feet or legs, stretching the head more towards the feet and giving an additional stretch to the spine and backs of the legs.
- As you continue to hold the posture, relax as much as possible, especially in the shoulders and hips. With each exhale let your breath do the work – the belly will eventually fall closer toward the thighs, the chest toward the knees and the head towards the feet.
- Hold the asana for 30 seconds at first and work up to 5 minutes or more.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings
- Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort
- Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
- Traditional texts say that Paschimottanasana increases appetite, reduces obesity, and cures diseases.