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Paschimottanasana or the Seated Forward Bend pose is a well-known Hatha Yoga pose that offers numerous benefits for the mind and body. It is also sometimes referred to as Intense Dorsal Stretch Pose. This asana impacts numerous organs and systems of the body and is known for its effectiveness in managing high blood pressure and diabetes. The unique thing about this asana is that it helps to give the whole body an excellent stretch. It is one of the most important forward bend yoga poses that you can include in your practice. The term Paschimottanasana is derived from the word Paschim which means west. Since the back portion of the body is commonly called the west and the asana stimulates the back of the body, it is named in this way.  In many Yogic treatises, Paschimottanasana is widely described as Ugrasana or the excellent posture since it has numerous exceptional qualities and health benefits.

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Steps of Paschimottanasana

Learn about the steps of Paschimottanasana before you start practicing it.

    • Sit up straight with your legs stretched out right before you on the surface of the floor.
    • Make sure that you keep your spine perfectly erect and the toes flexed in your direction.
    • Keep your respiration at a normal pace.
    • Breathe in and slowly raise both your arms straight above the head as you stretch up.
    • Breathe out slowly and gently bend forward from the hip joint. Keep your spine erect and move your chin towards the toes.

    • Place the hands on the legs without putting too much effort.
    • If you can, hold of the toes and gently pull on them so that you can move forward.
    • Maintain your body in this position for as long as you can.
    • As you reach the exertion limit, inhale deeply and rise up by stretching your arms up and straight above the head.

    • Gently breathe out as you bring your arms down and place your palms on the surface of the ground.
    • Now relax for some time and try to focus on the changes that have occurred in your body.

Step images of paschimottanasana Step images of paschimottanasana


Preparatory Poses associated with Paschimottanasana

These are the main preparatory yoga poses that you need to practice before doing Paschimottanasana.

  • Balasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana

Follow up poses associated with Paschimottanasana

Ardha Matsyendrasana is the main follow up pose that is to be practiced after Paschimottanasana.

Tips for performing Paschimottanasana

During the initial stages of practicing Paschimottanasana, you should only perform this asana based on your comfort level and not press yourself too much. Many people are not comfortable in forwarding bend postures and you should try to ease into this asana gradually. This is especially true if you are looking to sit on the floor as you do this asana. While moving forward, if you feel the space between the pubis and navel is reducing, you should stop and lift your body a little before continuing to move forward. You may also find that the muscles in your leg are tight and they make it rather difficult and painful for you to smoothly bend your body. You do not have to worry about this as practice will make your body far more flexible with time. Like with the other yoga postures, Paschimottanasana should be practiced under the close supervision of a trained and experienced yoga master.

The science of Paschimottanasana

The Paschimottanasana provides a good stretch to the back of the body from the head to the ankles. This helps to contract the muscles present in the anterior section of the body which in turn causes pressure on the thorax and abdomen. This improves respiratory functions as well as the functioning of intra-abdominal glands, particularly focusing on secretions. Flexibility within the thighs, the lumbar region, and hips is greatly improved. It also boosts blood circulation the blood in the back. The nerves of the spinal cord are thoroughly toned by this asana. The asana also works to reduce fat deposits in the thighs, hips, and the abdomen region. It also helps to purify the Nadis and stimulate Kundalini Shakti.

Benefits of Paschimottanasana

Here are some of the major Paschimottanasana benefits for health that you should know about.

  • It induces complete relaxation, gets rid of stress and enhances the moods
  • It helps to stimulate various organs including kidneys, intestines, ovaries, uterus, and liver
  • The asana stretches the spine, lower back, shoulders, uterus, ovaries, and hamstrings
  • It calms the brain as well as cures mild depression
  • Paschimottanasana helps to relieve the symptoms of serious menstrual discomfort
  • It helps to greatly improve digestion
  • This asana can make the waist thinner and get rid of fat deposits around abdomen and hips that reduce aesthetic appeal of a person.

  • Practicing paschimottanasana helps to normalize lymphatic circulation and this makes a person immune to infections.
  • It helps to cure dermatological diseases.
  • Unpleasant body odors can be removed from the body by practicing this asana regularly.
  • It helps to make the face radiant and give a magnetic or mesmerizing appeal to the eyes.
  • It helps a person to fight the signs of old age and maintain youthful vigor
  • The asana stretches the shoulders, spine and the hamstrings
  • This asana soothes anxiety, headache and reduces fatigue
  • The asana has a highly positive impact on the digestive system of the body
  • The asana is perfect for people who tend to feel lethargic and low on energy.
  • It is therapeutic for infertility, insomnia, high blood pressure, and sinusitis
  • It can increase height when practiced by a growing child
  • It can cure dyspepsia, liver idleness, gastritis, belching, constipation and hemorrhoids
  • The asana is strongly recommended for managing diabetes
  • Paschimottanasana has strongly beneficial effects on the female uterus and male prostate. It ensures better blood circulation through the whole body, particularly in the pelvic area. It helps the sexual glands to easily absorb necessary amounts of blood, thus leading to increased virility. Sexual weakness and impotence are rapidly eliminated.

  • Paschimottanasana helps to strengthen the tendons and can eliminate sciatica, arthritic pain, sciatic nerve neuralgia as well as pains in the feet, back, thighs and knees.

  • The asana can heal lumbago crisis and add resistance and strength to the spine.
  • The traditional texts mention that Paschimottanasana can reduce obesity, increase appetite and heal many diseases.

Precautions and contraindications

Here are the main precautions and contraindications that you must keep in mind while practicing Paschimottanasana.

  • This asana should be avoided if you are suffering from asthma, diarrhea or dysentery problems.
  • Pregnant women or those who are looking to get pregnant need to avoid practicing this particular asana.
  • If you have recently experienced a back injury, it is important that you practice this asana under the direct guidance of a professional yoga teacher.

Practicing Paschimottanasana regularly can truly help you to transform your body and enhance your overall well being. Many professional yoga teachers like Erika Halweil strongly recommend the practice of Paschimottanasana. So now that you have learned about the steps and benefits of this asana, go ahead and include it in your regular workout schedule.


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