Paschimotanasana : The Posterior Stretch

Paschima" means 'behind', 'back' or 'posterior' and 'Uttana' means to stretch out in Sanskrit. "Paschimotana" means stretching the posterior regions of the body. This asana is also known as Ugar Asana

Paschimotanasana : The Posterior Stretch - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1. Sit upright in Sukhasana, keeping the head, neck and spine erect.
  2. Stretch your legs straight out in front of you and keep them together.
  3. Keep the knees straight.
  4. Place the palms on the respective knees.
  5. Bend your trunk and head slowly forward and downward from the waist. While doing this, slide forward the hands along the shins and grasp the corresponding big toes with the index finger, middle finger and thumb of each hand without bending the knees.
  6. Keep the head between the upper arms and pull the big toes steadily. While doing so, bend further forward, curve the spine and aim your forehead towards the knees.
  7. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
  8. Lower the head down as far as you can towards the knees, drawing in your abdominal muscles gently, still grasping and pulling the big toes and keeping the knees straight.
  9. Bend the arms and rest the elbows gradually on the floor.
  10. Using the elbows as levers, rest your forehead on the knees which should not be raised or bent. 11. Exhale completely.
  11. Holding out your breath, stay in this posture for a few seconds or as long as you are comfortable.
  12. Return slowly and smoothly in the reverse order to the starting position.
  13. Freely exhale and inhale until your breathing returns to normal.
Benefits:
  • Paschimotanasana is a fine stretching exercise for the back of the whole body, from the heels to the top of the spine. In one continuous movement, almost all the posterior muscles of the body, particularly the hamstring muscles at the back of the thighs and the muscles of the small of the back, are fully stretched and relaxed. The muscles of the neck, chest, shoulders, the spinal column, hips and the recti are also brought into play.
  • This asana stretches the spine to its maximum length, which makes it supple and flexible.
  • The asana stretches the ribcage and its regular practice will expand the lungs more.
  • The practice of this asana improves digestion and the peristaltic action of the bowels.
  • The joints of the arms, elbows, shoulders, legs, knees, ankles and hips become more elastic.
  • This asana is good for reducing fatty deposits in the abdomen, hips, backside and thighs. Obese persons may repeat it as many times as possible to reduce their waist and protruding belly.
  • The loins and the waist get into good shape. The legs also become firm and develop evenly.
  • This asana rectifies minor postural defects and deformities in the curvature of the spine, and helps a person to attain his full stature.
  • Paschimotanasana gives relief in cases of sciatica, muscular rheumatism of the back, backache, lumbago, slipped disc and asthmatic attacks.
  • It is a good remedy for constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, belching, hiccoughs and digestive disturbances.
  • It can be recommended for the enlargement or sluggishness of the liver and spleen.
  • It will check the development of piles and prevent several functional disorders of the intestines.
  • Diabetic patients may practice this asana with advantage as it activates the pancreas.
  • It helps overcome many menstrual disorders.
  • Daily practice of this asana helps to cure impotency and seminal weakness, increases vitality, and enhances the power of sex control.
Tips and Help:
  • Your knees should be straight and while bending forward also try to keep your back straight.
  • Even if you cannot bend fully until you can place your upper body on your legs, you can concentrate with each breath to go more to the front and more down.
  • Bend further and further.
  • Take care not to turn your soles towards each other as it will reduce the work of the posture.
  • If you cannot reach your toes, grab your legs wherever you can reach them and bend forward as much as is possible for you.
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