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Paschimottanasana Yoga variations and meaning

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Paschimottanasana Yoga: Here’s how the Hatha Pradipikia describes the method of doing the Paschimotanasana: Stretch the legs like sticks on the ground. Grasp the toes. Rest your forehead on the knees.
Paschimottanasana Yoga
The Nomenclature

Paschimottanasana is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Paschima’ meaning ‘posterior’, ‘back’ or ‘behind’; ‘Uttana’ referring to stretching out’ and ‘Asana’, of course, connoting ‘Posture’. Therefore ‘Paschimottana’ basically means stretching out the posterior portions of your body.

Mmethodology of Paschimottanasana Yoga

You can do this asana starting from a sleeping position or from a sitting position.
Moreover, there are three stages to do this posture. First is the limbering up phase. The second consists of the breathing stage. The third is the posture assuming stage. After breathing normally, commence the asana as you exhale after a deep inhalation. You will have to complete the asana during the exhalation process.

The Concentration Point

Most importantly, it is important that you concentrate on your spinal tip.

Points to remember

  • Don’t do Paschimottanasana yoga on a full tummy.
  • Do the asana when your tummy is empty.
  • Never hold your breath while inhalation during this posture.
  • If you suffer from back problems or you may have undergone any surgical operations lately, do the asana only after consulting your physician.
  • This asana is not meant for pregnant women, or people having hernia or slipped disc.
  • You can do three rounds of this asana with each round consisting of just 10m seconds.
  • As you master the asana, do just one round but prolong the position till half a minute.
  • When you lengthen the position, you can also in between the posture lift up your head, slowly inhale and also exhale. Then, replace your forehead on the knees and resume the normal breathing course.

The Limbering-up Strategy

  • Give your muscles an auto-suggestion and thus take them into confidence.
  • Loosen up the body in the following manner.
  • While sitting down try thrice in quick succession to touch your knees.
  • Limber up by touching the knees while exhaling and inhaling while returning to the starting position.
  • This will make the pine more elastic
  • Moreover, your hamstring muscles at the back of your knees will also be able to properly withstand the strain.
  • However know for sure that any strain that you may feel will do to\you a world of good. There are absolutely no side-effects.

The breathing Moves

  • First, sit straight and erect (that position is called Sukhasana).
  • Then, you’ll have to stretch out your legs.
  • See that your knees are straight.
  • Place the palms on the respective knees.
  • Keep the fingers close together.
  • Breathe normally.
  • Relax the body.
  • Ensure that your neck, head and trunk are also relaxed.
  • Keep your legs firmly fixed and stiff like sticks on the ground.
  • Take the deep breath.
  • Do the following position while you exhale.

The Posture

  • Irrespective of whether you do the asana from a sleeping or a sitting posture, first you should relax the body while mentally conditioning your mind to successfully complete the as the manner recommended.
  • Gradually bend forward your head and trunk down from the waist onwards over the legs which are stretched.
  • Slide your hands towards the feet above the legs and reach out to the toes.
  • Grasp your toes with your index, middle fingers and the thumb.
  • Steadily pull the toes.
  • Rest your elbows on the ground.
  • Use the elbows placed on the floor as the levers.
  • Place your forehead on your knees.
  • Remember not to either raise or bend the forehead.
  • Keep your head between the upper arms.
  • Pull your body forward and downward even as you stretch your spine.
  • Lower your head as far down as possible.
  • Draw in your abdomen.
  • Don’t resort to jerks and bounces while you try to touch the knees with your forehead.
  • Maintain the position for about five seconds.
  • Relax your back.
  • While pulling your toes, stretch the back muscles.
  • Pull your body forward and downward even as you stretch your spine.
  • Lower your head as far down as possible.
  • Draw in your abdomen.
  • Don’t resort to jerks and bounces while you try to touch the knees with your forehead.
  • Your body will now be folded at the hip joints in two portions. This completes one round!
  • While exhaling, tighten the legs.

Returning to the starting point

  • Release the toes and return to the sitting position.
  • Allow your spine to slowly curl back in one complete movement.
  • Complete the exhalation process.
  • Slowly take a deep breath.
  • Carry out the normal breathing for about three seconds and then prepare yourself to do the second round.

Advantages of Paschimottanasana Yoga

You can have both therapeutical as well physical advantages from regular practicing of Paschimottanasana yoga. Here’s a list of those advantages:

Threapeutical Advantages of Paschimottanasana Yoga

  • Practice Paschimottanasana to overcome menstrual disorders.
  • Paschimottanasana cures seminal weakness and impotency.
  • Paschimottanasana also increases vitality.
  • Paschimottanasana further increases sex control power.
  • Diabetic patients can activate the pancreas activities with regular practice of Paschimottanasana.
  • Intestinal disorders are cured.
  • Paschimottanasana checks the development of piles.
  • Liver and spleen disorders are also cured. Paschimottanasana blocks the enlargement of liver.
  • Sluggishness of the liver is cured.
  • Paschimottanasana also cures digestive dysfunctions.
  • Paschimottanasana offers a good remedial course for hiccoughs, flatulence, constipation and belching besides flatulence and dyspepsia.
  • Paschimottanasana relieves rheumatism especially of the muscular portion of the back.
  • If you suffer from slipped discs, back aches, asthmatic attacks, lumbago, simply practice Paschimottanasana. You’ll be cured of all these disorders.


  • The ovaries and the uterus becomes strengthened.
  • Paschimottanasana activates the gonad glands and the adrenals as they are activated through the supply of blood.
  • Paschimottanasana cures postural defects.
  • Flab will be reduced in the abdomen, thighs, backside, abdomen, and the hips.
  • Paschimottanasana also solves all muscular rheumatism problems of the back.
  • Your legs will also develop evenly besides becoming stronger
  • Paschimottanasana is further the panacea for curvature spinal deformities.
  • If you are obese, regularly practise Paschimottanasana to cut down the accumulated fatty substances particularly in the waist.
  • The protruding belly will also brought back to its normal size.
  • Paschimottanasana corrects postures.
  • Your loins and waist will resume their normal sizes.
  • Paschimottanasana checks early ossification of the ribs.
  • You will be able to have regular movement of your bowels.
  • Paschimottanasana further improves the peristaltic action of the bowels.
  • Moreover, Paschimotanasana will boost your digestive acumen.
  • Paschimottanasana makes your joints more flexible and elastic.
  • Paschimottanasana also has positive effects on your joints of your hips, ankles, knees, legs, shoulders, elbows and the arms.
  • The integral organs become stronger during the abdomen compressing phases.
  • If there is any congestion of the solar plexus, it gets cured when you regularly practise Paschimottanasana.
  • The pelvic region gets augmented supply of oxygenated blood when the pelvic portion gets stretched.
  • The lungs get expanded and the ribcage gets stretched to its optimum limit.
  • Paschimottanasana tones up the nerves, prostrate, rectum, recti, bladder, rectum, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and the liver with the augmented supply of blood.
  • The abdominal organs and the heart gets massaged.
  • The pelvic organ nerves as well as those in the spinal lumbo-sacral portions – the area where many physical ailments arise — gets toned up.
  • Your spine will gets stretched to its maximum limit.
  • As a result, your spine will become flexible and supple.
  • So, we have seen that Paschimottanasana stretches up the entire body.
  • All the posterior muscles are activated in one continuous deliberate movement of the limbs.


  • Hatha Ratnavali: III(65-6);
  • Gheranda Samhita: II(26).

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