Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Never force yourself into a forward bend when sitting on the floor
Yogasana, the third limb of Raja Yoga also popularly understood by mass population as yoga is getting popular as never before in both eastern and western countries. The reason for Yogasana (popularly know as Yoga) to gain popularity are numerous ranging from releasing stress, flexibility to helping patient suffering from various diseases. Although the initial objective of Yogasana (Yoga) in Raja Yoga was different, however the ability of yoga to help patient with various ailments is really praiseworthy.
The Sitting Forward Bend is one of the most demanding postures of Yoga. In this pose the body is folded almost in half, providing an intense stretch to the entire back of the body, from the scalp down to the heels.
Students often struggle in this asana. If you pull yourself forward using your shoulders and arms you will create the tension through your body and you will end up tightening your muscles and this will not allow you to get into the posture any quicker. While doing this asana give some time for the muscles to stretch and to release the tension. Often, because of tightness in the back of the legs many students do not go very far forward. For those who find it difficult to do the full Sitting Forward Bend they can do the half pose using the right leg and the right hand at a time for a few breaths and than practice with the other leg and hand.
The Sitting Forward Bend stimulates the kidneys, liver, spleen and pancreas improving digestion in the body. The pose tones and massages the entire abdominal area and it relieves constipation. It stretches the hamstring muscles, lumbar and sacral regions and increases flexibility in the hip joints. Regular practice of this asana removes excess weight in the abdomen area.
Three important reasons (out of many) not to do Sitting Forward Bend:
1) A person who suffers from slipped disc and sciatica should not practice this powerful asana.
2) Anyone who has asthma should not attempt to practice this pose.
3) If you are in the first trimester of pregnancy avoid this asana as it puts stress on the womb. After the first trimester you can practice the pose very gently with your legs slightly apart.
Issued in the interest of people practicing Hatha Yoga by Subodh Gupta, Yoga Expert based in London.