Exercise-87: Paschimottanasana (the back stretching pose)
- Sit on the floor with the legs straight in front of the body, the lower arms on the thighs.
- Relax the whole body, especially the back muscle and slowly bend the body forward.
- Try to grasp the big toes with the fingers and the thumbs. If this is difficult then hold the heels, ankles or the legs as near to the feet as possible.
- Again, consciously relax the back and leg muscle- keeping the legs straight and without utilizing the back muscles and only using the arms- pull the trunk little lower toward the legs.
- This should be performed without any sudden movement or excessive strain anywhere in the body. If possible touch the knees with the forehead.
- Remain in the final pose for a comfortable length of time, trying to further relax the whole body, and then slowly return to the starting position.
- Do not bend the legs at the knees.
- It is part of the aim of the asana to stretch the muscles at the back of the legs. Do not force and allow the muscles to get elongated in time.
- After some weeks or months of regular practice you will be able to touch the knees with the forehead or perhaps even the chin.
- Breathe normally in the sitting position.
- Exhale slowly while bending forward.
- Inhale while holding the body motionless. Exhale as you pull the trunk further forward with the arms.
- Breathe slowly and deeply in the final pose.
- Inhale while returning to the starting position.
- If the final pose is not held for a long time the breath may be retained outside.
- Adepts can maintain the final pose for up to 5 minutes providing they are comfortable in it.
- Beginners should perform the asana a few times, staying in the final pose for only a short length of time.
- Spiritual aspirants should aim to stay in the final position with complete relaxation for extended lengths of time.
Physical and mental- On the abdomen, relaxation of the back muscles or the slow breathing process.
Use as a counter pose to backward bending asanas.
People who have slipped discs, sciatica, chronic arthritis and sacral infections should not do this asana.
- Stretches the hamstring muscles and loosens the hip joints.
- Effectively removes excess fat in the abdominal region.
- Tones all the abdominal organs and removes diseases of this area, such as diabetes.
- It also activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands.
- Tones the pelvic organs and is therefore especially useful for eliminating female sexual maladies.
- Encourages a good flow of fresh blood to the spinal nerves and muscles.
This is a very powerful asana for spiritual awakening and is highly regarded in ancient yoga texts.