PASCHIMOTTANASANA – THE POSTERIOR STRETCH

Self-effort takes me to a point. It is self-offering that makes me strong.

The word ‘paschim’ meaning west is used in the context of the posterior of the body and uttana for stretching. The need for spinal fitness is obvious. Exercising it in all possible ways is essential. Paschimottanasana builds up a strong and healthy spine, which in turn upholds the body. However, it is the intense abdominal compression that strengthens the core.

The process of practice of this asana and its final form brings about a sense of achievement devoid of ego and ushers humility.

You can perform this asana in a dynamic way as mentioned below or you can remain in the final posture for one to two minutes breathing normally.

Method of Practice

Starting Position

1.Sit on a mat with your legs fully stretched and your toes facing upwards.

2.Keep your spine, shoulders, neck erect and look straight ahead.

3.Keep your hands relaxed beside your body with your palms facing down.

Steps .

4.While inhaling, lean backwards keeping both your hands beside your chest folded at the elbow, palms facing downwards. Your elbows should not jut out.

5.While exhaling, bend forward stretching your hands to hold the toes, trying to touch the head to the knees without bending your knees. At this stage, you can try to lower your elbows to touch the floor if possible.

6.While exhaling, turn your torso to the right as far as possible, leaning forward, extending your hands straight and trying to touch the floor ahead on the right. Check that your left hip is not lifted.

7.Remain in the position for six seconds.

8.Inhaling, return to the centre.

9.While exhaling, repeat on the opposite side.

10.Inhaling, return to the centre.

11.Exhaling, lower hands and relax your hands on the thighs.

Posture Release

12.Remain in the posture for six seconds while suspending your breath.

13.While inhaling, return to the starting position.

Caution: This final position is not easily attained. It is recommended that you try as much as you can and practise regularly. Overdoing this practice may cause injury.

 Limitations / Contraindications

1.Hypertension, heart ailments

2.Pregnancy, peptic ulcers, hernia

3.Hyperthyroid

4.Serious spinal disorders

5.Myopia, glaucoma and serious eye disorders

Benefits Physical

1.It brings about deep intra-abdominal compression and a massage to your abdominal viscera.

2.It stretches the superficial and deep muscles of your ankles, legs and shoulders.

3.It stretches the spine and brings flexibility.

Therapeutic

4.Maximum posterior stretch to the spine helps in correcting minor deformities of the curvature of the spine and improves blood circulation in the veins and arteries.

5.It relieves constipation, weak digestion and improves a sluggish liver.

6.Abdominal compression helps reduce fat deposits in the abdomen.

Psychological

7.It acts as a stress reliever.

8.It calms your mind.

9.It enhances your concentration.

Muscles Involved

1.Ankle dorsi, knee, shoulder, finger and plantar flexors

2.Vertebral column, hip and knee extensors

3.Isometric contraction of forearm, arm, shoulder girdle

4.Abductor, medial rotators

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