Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold
Paschima — west
Ut — intense
Tan — to stretch
Asana — pose
Translated as “intense stretch of the ‘west side’ of the body”, Paschimottanasana is a classical Hatha asana that can indeed, feel intense. By letting go of the ego that is evaluating; where your body is laying on your legs and impatience in the length of your hamstrings, and surrendering to the action of the deep forward fold. You can lengthen your spine and open yourself to allow the life-force to flow freely within and experience calm, finding the humility integral to our practice. The greater the relaxation, the greater the deeper your stretch will be.
It is best to come into Paschimottanasana from Dandasana (Staff pose):
- With your legs extended in front of you in staff pose (Dandasana). Reach actively through your heels keeping your knees slightly bent, straightening the legs as flexibility increases.
- Inhale as you reach your arms out to the side, and then up overhead, lengthening your spine.
- Exhaling, fold forward, hinging from the hips and stretching the arms forward. Lengthen the front of your torso. Imagine your torso coming to rest on your thighs, instead of tipping your nose toward your knees.
- Hold onto your shins, ankles, or feet — wherever your flexibility permits.
- Keep the front of your torso long; let your belly touch your legs first, and then your chest. Your head and nose should touch your legs last.
- With each inhalation, lengthen the front torso. With each exhalation, fold a bit deeper.
- To release: Inhale and raise the head and torso, drawing the lower back in to a concave position. Release the hands and raise the torso back to Dandasana.
Come and play with this pose by surrendering and letting go; over and over, finding your edge and then letting go a little bit more. You will discover intense relaxation.