This posture is very famous for removing gas from the back and feet. That is why this posture is counted among the essential postures. If Sheersha Asana (The Headstand) has been said to be the King of all Yoga postures, then this posture i.e. the Forward Bend is said to be the Prime Minister. This posture benefits the back muscles. Since one bends forward in this posture, this posture is called the Forward Bend.
How to do Paschimottanasana
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you. The legs should be straight and the knees, heels and the toes should be placed together. The back should be straight and the gaze should be fixed straight in front. Breathe in and raise your arms above your head. (Some Yoga trainers advise to lie down first and then sit. According to them, one must stretch their body and then sit, raising the head and the body.) Anyway, one can practice this posture in any manner.
- Touch the toes of your left foot with the forefinger of your left hand and touch die toes of your right foot with the forefinger of your right hand.
- Breathe out and squeeze (contract} your stomach or perform Uddiyan Bandha (described later in this book). Then bend your back forward and try to touch your head with your knees. The elbows should be touching the ground. The knees, legs and calves should be straight and touching the ground.
- After remaining in this position for some time, come back to the normal sitting position. When your breathing becomes normal try again to touch your head with your knees. You should complete the posture in three steps described herein (touching left foot right foot and then touching your head with your knees)
Spread your legs like sticks
Then according to your ability
Hold the your toes with your hands
Remain in this Paschimottanasana
Once you are able to master this posture,
Interlock fingers of your hands
And encircle your toes with your hands
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Sometimes, while practicing of this posture in a hurry or without any conscious effort, pain is felt while bending. Therefore, due care is a must. Take care not to force yourself too much to touch your head with your knees It is not essential that you should be able to touch your head with your knees in the first attempt. Therefore, instead of repeatedly trying this posture, it is better that one should try to remain in the bent position (not necessarily that the head should be touching the knees) for longer periods. In a perfect state duration may be from ten seconds to one minute.
Benefits of Paschimottanasana
This posture has beneficial effect on spine, liver, intestines and stomach. Muscles of the back and hip become healthy. Unnecessary fat on the stomach is reduced Obesity and constipation are cured.
This posture specially puts pressure on all parts of the stomach region and all the organs of this region i.e. kidneys, liver, spleen etc become active. This posture also puts pressure in curing the ailments of the reproductive parts of woman.
The posture supplies fresh blood to the blood vessels of the spine. It eases every type of pain of the back also wonderfully affects the brain nerves. Hence this posture is very beneficial to relieve all mental tension and maintaining mental equilibrium.
For spiritual benefits, this posture is also very useful. This posture has been given special importance in all the ancient Yoga literature. Gorakhnath, the great yogi has thus described this posture :
The best of all Yoga posture,
this posture enable the life giving air
to flow westwards
In other words, the life forces begin to be
Governed by the Spinal Cord
This posture increases appetite, removes obesity and flattens the stomach. It has been mentioned in Yoga literature that this posture provides longevity to life. Defects of the semen are removed. The gray hair becomes black. Glow of the skin and shine of the body increased.
Precautions of Paschimottanasana
Those of you suffering from perpetual constipation, should not practice this posture for more than two to three minutes If it is to be performed for longer periods, then it is essential to perform Uddiyan Bandha (described elsewhere in this book) many times.