“Paschima” – translates to your ‘back” – “Uttana” – translates to “stretching”
HOW TO PERFORM
• Start in Dandasana (Staff pose) with straight spine with legs together. Engage both thighs and flex the ankles. There is a tendency for a slight external rotation in the legs; so once the legs are active aim to achieve neutral alignment through the shins, knees and thighs.
• Inhale, extend the arms above the head allowing the width of the arms to be in-line with the shoulder girdle. Keep the spine straight from the base of the tailbone to the crown of the head.
Start to contract the pelvic floor engaging the mula bandha and providing a slight contraction to the abdomen, by drawing the navel in and up towards the sternum bone – engaging the uddiyana bandha.
• Exhale, hinge the torso forward be keeping the legs active and providing an extension through the finger tips whilst drawing the scapula (shoulder blades) down towards the latissimus dorsi muscles.
• With each inhalation aim to achieve length, extension in the torso by lifting through the chest centre being aware to keep a relatively straight middle-upper back (thoracic spine). With each exhalation aiming to achieve more depth.
• Through persistence, patience and practice eventually the anterior torso (stomach, chest) will lie flat on the tops of the legs.
Option to take the big toes, soles of the feet and for a more intense, stretch one of the wrists with the hands.
• Do not force movement. Allow the exhalation through the breath to dictate the depth of the posture. Be your own teacher.
• Forward bends are an opportunity to get more in-touch with your Yin side, allowing the endocrine system to regulate, providing a sense of clarity and serenity for the mind.
• This posture acts as a natural stress reliever – helps in the production of melatonin, a hormone that elevates your mood and sleeping patterns.
• Helps tones the abdominal muscles and massages the abdominal organs, especially the liver, kidneys and ovaries.
• Pregnant women should not practise Paschimottanasana.
• Anyone suffering from slip disc or sciatica problem, asthma should also avoid.
• Lower back pain or spinal injuries.