Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Fold

Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Fold is a posture with many facets. Most forward folding postures are cooling, soothing, and gentle on the body. However, with a bit of oomph thrown in, this seated forward fold can also be a powerful hamstring opener, and offer release to the lower back.

To come into the posture, sit on the floor with a folded blanket beneath your hips, and your legs extended out straight. Reach out through the crown of your head as well as your heels. Press the thighs toward the floor. Feel your spine grow longer with every breath.

Inhale, and keeping the front body long, lean forward. Be sure to fold at the hips, rather than collapsing at the waist. Once at a comfortable level, either wrap the arms around the legs, or gently clasp the shins, sides of feet or, if you have the flexibility, take hold of the big toes. As with many yoga postures, body proportions do play a part. For those with longer legs, using a strap around the feet may offer the extra arm length needed to comfortably take hold of the feet.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To exit the posture, inhale and lift the torso away from the thighs. Important: If you have any type of back injury, only perform this pose under the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Take Note

Never forcefully pull yourself into this posture or any forward fold. Allow the posture to deepen with time and patience. Work with your breath – inhaling and lengthening the torso, then exhaling and folding softly. Allow the lower belly to touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and lastly, let the head rest down. If you have extreme tightness in the hamstrings, bend the knees considerably, until the belly can rest comfortably on the thighs. For even more ease, you can place a rolled up blanket under the knees for extra support.

Body Focus

Hamstrings, lower back

Benefits
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys and ovaries
  • Improves digestion
  • Soothes headache and anxiety
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis

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