- Sit on the edge of a firm blanket with your legs extended in front of you. Reach actively through your heels. Beginners should bend their knees throughout the pose, eventually straightening the legs as flexibility increases.
- Inhale as you reach your arms out to the side, and then up overhead, lengthening your spine.
- Exhaling, bend forward from the hip joints. Do not bend at the waist. 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. You can also wrap a yoga strap around the soles of your feet, holding it firmly with both hands.
- Keep the front of your torso long; do not round your back. 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.
- Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, draw your tailbone towards the floor as you inhale and lift your torso.
Seated Forward Bend Pose Modifications & Variations
Paschimottanasana is a calming and deeply rejuvenating stretch when practiced correctly. However, that might be unattainable if your hamstrings or spine are tight! With patience and practice, though, your hamstrings and spine will loosen and lengthen. Remember to take it slowly and never push yourself in the pose. Try these changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If your hamstrings or low back are tight, bend your knees. If you’re very stiff, you can place a rolled-up blanket under your knees. Most beginners should hold a strap around their feet, as well.
- If you are extremely stiff and can’t even begin the pose, try lying on your back in Legs Up The Wall Pose. This will begin to open the hip joint and hamstrings in a passive way, rather than pushing too hard, which can over-strain the muscles and lead to even greater inflexibility.
- If it’s easy to clasp your hands around the soles of your feet, you can deepen the pose by placing a block at the soles of the feet and holding that, instead.
Seated Forward Bend Pose Benefits:
- Relief from stress and mild depression
- Improved digestion and appetite
- Relief from menstrual pain and symptoms of menopause
- A calmer mind
- Reduced anxiety and fatigue
- Improved sleep and relief from insomnia
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings
- Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus
- Soothes headaches
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
- Increases appetite, reduces obesity, and cures disease