Seated Forward Bend (Noble Pose) - Paschimottanasana


Paschimottanasana
(Seated Forward Bend - Noble Pose)

(POSH-ee-moh-tan-AHS-anna)
paschimottana = intense stretch of the west 
pashima = west
uttana = intense stretch

This yoga pose is invigorating! Raising kundalini energy up the spine, this pose stretches the back meridian of the body. The exercise from Staff Yoga Pose into the Seated Forward Bend Yoga Pose raises Kundalini, cleansing the chakra system.


Benefits

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: increases appetite, reduces obesity, and cures diseases.

Contraindications/Cautions

Asthma 

Diarrhea 

Back injury: Only perform this pose under the supervision of an experienced teacher.


Performing the Asana

Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Press actively through your heels. Rock slightly onto your left buttock, and pull your right sitting bone away from the heel with your right hand. Repeat on the other side. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.

Draw the inner groins deep into the pelvis. Inhale, and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. If possible take the sides of the feet with your hands, thumbs on the soles, elbows fully extended; if this isn't possible, loop a strap around the foot soles, and hold the strap firmly. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent.

When you are ready to go further, don't forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend, whether your hands are on the feet or holding the strap. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor; if holding the strap, lighten your grip and walk the hands forward, keeping the arms long. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last.

With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates and lengthens almost imperceptibly with the breath. Eventually you may be able to stretch the arms out beyond the feet on the floor.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis. 

Anatomical Focus

Hips

Spine

Mind/ Mentality

Legs 

Modify Your Practice

Most students should sit up on a folded blanket in this pose, and most beginners need to hold a strap around the feet. Extremely stiff students can place a rolled up blanket under their knees.

Complimentary Yoga Poses

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Bend
Janu Sirsasana - Head-to-Knee Pose
Balasana - Child's Pose

Deepening the Pose

Once you are fully in the forward bend you can re-extend the elbows. There are several ways to do this. You can clasp your hands around the soles of the feet, or turn the back of one hand to the soles and grip its wrist with the other hand. You can also place a block against the soles of your feet and grip its sides with your hands.