Hatha Yoga

    The Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana

    followed by The Inclined Plane

    seated forward bend

    Introduction

    Paschimottanasana, the seated forward bend, is the fifth of the 12 basic postures of hatha yoga. There are many benefits of this posture, the main and most obvious one is to provide a complete stretch of the entire backside of the body from the back of the head through the heels. Immediately following this is the counterstretch, the inclined plane.

    Physical Benefits

    Energetic (Pranic) Benefits

    Mental Benefits

    Technique

    Paschimottanasana begins by coming up to a seated position.

    To come out of the seated forward bend, inhale and stretch your hands past your feet, come up with a flat back stretching your arms and spine up as your body comes up. Exhale and relax the arms down.

    Contra-indications

    Because in the West we tend to sit on soft, comfortable furniture, this deceptively easy-looking asana can take a long time to perfect. The muscles of the hips and backs of the legs are very powerful and can take awhile to loosen before one can come fully into this pose. However, you can get the proper benefits of the posture by holding as still as possble at whatever stage you are at, with the understanding that with regular practice over time you will be able to make significant progress in this asana.

    This most excellent of all asanas, Paschimottanasana, makes the breath flow through the Sushumna, rouses the gastric fire, makes the loins lean, and removes all diseases. Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
    Chapter 1, verse 29

    The Inclined Plane

    The inclined plane is the counterstretch to the seated forward bend and follows immediately afterward. The inclined plane increases strength and flexibility in the muscles of the arms, shoulders and back, and improves balance.

    Technique

    To come out of the inclined plane, exhale and release the hips back down to the floor.

    The seated forward bend is part of the basic yoga class.

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