Seated Forward Fold – Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold Stretches the entire back of the body

Key Benefits

  • Stretches the hamstrings and spine
  • Calms the mind, reduces anxiety
  • Helps to keep the spine healthy and mobile

Instructions

  • Sit with your legs extended; feet are flexed, thighs squeezing towards each other. You may want to place a folded blanket under your buttocks if your hamstrings are tight or there is strain in your lower back. Lengthen your spine upwards and feel your ribcage lifting out of your hips and waist.
  • Create space between your neck and shoulders as you reach your fingertips to the floor alongside your legs. Inhale as you lengthen through the front of your torso and elongate your spine.
  • Exhale as you begin to fold forward, walking your fingertips down towards your feet; leading with your chest. When you have reached a comfortable stretch, begin to lower your head towards your legs and soften through your shoulders. If you are able to, take hold of your feet and draw against the soles of your feet to increase the intensity of the stretch. Only go as far as you can without rounding your lower back.

Notice the two way stretch as your hips move backwards and your spine lengthens forwards. Inhale and exhale as you sink deeper into the pose.

  • To come out of the pose: Inhale, draw your navel in and either maintain straight legs, or bend your knees. Lengthen forwards out of your hips, coming up with a straight spine, pressing your hands into the floor if you need to.

Modifications & Variations 

  • Place a cushion or folded blanket under your hips to allow more length and ease in your spine.
  • This pose can be very strong on the lower back. In the beginning, it is best if you bend your knees enough to allow for a comfortable stretch. As you gain flexibility you can begin to straighten your knees a little more each time.
  • Place a scarf or strap around the balls of your feet. Hold the scarf at even lengths in both hands and use it as leverage to lengthen your spine and fold forward.  It is also a good idea bend the knees to begin with and then slowly straighten them as your body yields.

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