Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

Type: Forward Bend
Level: Beginner

Steps:
Sit straight with legs straight out in front of you. Extend upwards and then bend towards your legs. Try to move your stomach to your thighs, lower your head and move the hands towards the toes.

Variations:
It doesn’t matter if you cannot touch your toes in this position, as long as you keep your legs straight to feel the stretch in the hamstrings. You need to have a straight spine rather than rounding the spine to get closer to the legs.
If you are more flexible you can reach the hands around the feet and perhaps bind a hand around the wrist.
If pregnant have the legs wide to allow space for the stomach.

Props & Assistance:
You can use a strap around the feet.
You could also sit on a folded blanket.

Preparatory poses:
To perform this pose you need to be open in the calves, knees, hips, back, shoulders and chest. Poses which help with this include the following:

  • Downward dog
  • Staff
  • Head to knee forward bend
  • Reclining hand to big toe pose
  • Childs

You need strength and stability in the hips, legs, knees, feet, abdominals, back, shoulders. Poses that help with this include:

  • Downward dog
  • Fire log
  • Childs
  • Shoulder stand
  • Plow
  • Staff
  • Half standing forward bend
  • Standing forward bend
  • Pyramid
  • Wide legged forward bend
  • Reclining hand to big toe
  • Wide legged seated forward fold
  • This pose is a very good counter pose for backbends

Follow up poses:
Good counter poses include:

  • Seated twists
  • Suppine twists
  • Knees to chest
  • Corpse

Benefits:

  • Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort
  • Soothes headache, anxiety and reduces fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis

Caution/Avoid:

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Back injury
  • If pregnant have the legs wide to allow space for the stomach
  • If you have a medical condition and are thinking of starting yoga, it is advisable to consult with your doctor.

Sarah Williams is a Qualified Yoga Teacher based in London with an online presence @sarahlucyyoga on Instagram and Facebook. She also blogs about yoga and health & wellbeing topics on her website. Sarah’s focus is Vinyasa Flow, Hatha and Ashtanga styles of yoga and she completed part of her training in India.
As well as being a yoga teacher Sarah is also a Chartered Accountant. She fell in love with yoga as it was a release from the office, it taught her to value her health and improved the attitude she had towards life and herself. As a teacher she is able to pass on the benefits of yoga to her students and finds the job incredibly rewarding.

She has completed her 300 hr advanced teacher training from Sampoorna Yoga Goa in January-February 2019. If interested in Yoga Teacher Training please browse our Teacher Training page

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