Paschi­mot­tanasana

Paschima = Western · Ut­tana = In­tense stretch · Asana = Pose In­tense Western Stretch Pose (also Seated For­ward Bend)

Yoga Journal - - Practice Well -

BEN­E­FITS Stretches the back of your en­tire body, from your heels to your head; helps to open your hips; strength­ens your agni (di­ges­tive fire); cre­ates a state of in­ner calm

IN­STRUC­TION

Be­fore ex­plor­ing any par­tic­u­lar asana, first com­plete at least three rounds of Surya Na­maskar A (Sun Salu­ta­tion A).

For Paschi­mot­tanasana, be­gin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down­ward-Fac­ing Dog Pose). At the end of an ex­ha­la­tion, step (or jump) to a seated po­si­tion.

Straighten your legs and place your hands next to the flesh of your outer hips. Bring your legs to­gether with the in­sides of your feet touch­ing. Flex your feet by draw­ing your toes to­ward you, and si­mul­ta­ne­ously press out through the balls of your feet. Ac­ti­vate your thigh mus­cles by draw­ing them up, away from your kneecaps. Draw your low belly softly to­ward your spine. Let your shoul­ders move back, and be­gin to breathe into your chest and your en­tire rib cage.

Keep­ing the ac­ti­va­tion of your legs and low belly, reach for­ward to hold your big toes, the sides of your feet, or a wrist beyond your flexed feet.

Main­tain­ing the hold, in­hale and lift your chest, length­en­ing your ab­domen and sides. Gen­tly re­lax your shoul­ders away from your ears.

As you ex­hale, be­gin to move deeper into a for­ward fold. Try not to pull with your arms. In­stead, keep your shoul­ders re­laxed. Bend your el­bows and bow your head, gaz­ing to­ward your legs. Re­lax your neck and let your breath move freely.

Keep gen­tly draw­ing your low belly to­ward your spine, lift­ing your waist off your thighs. On in­hala­tions, feel a broad­en­ing of your chest and a length­en­ing in the front of your torso. On ex­ha­la­tions, feel a widen­ing in your up­per back as you con­tinue to re­lax your shoul­ders. Hold for at least 5 breaths. To exit the pos­ture, in­hale and lengthen your torso up­ward while straight­en­ing your arms. Com­plete a full ex­ha­la­tion be­fore re­leas­ing your feet.

DON’T let your feet or knees turn out. This over­stretches your in­ner knees and brings the stretch out of the belly of your ham­strings, closer to your joints.

DON’T round and har­den your back, push­ing your torso away from your legs. This will cre­ate ten­sion and in­hibit your breath, which can strain your back.

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