Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yoga Posture: Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimothanasana)

Paschimottanasana also called Ugrasana or Brahmacharyasana.

In this asana, the body is folded almost in half, giving a comprehensive stretch to the entire back of the body, from the skull down to the heels. It is a very simple, yet powerful, position to practise. In the words of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, "This most excellent of asanas makes the breath flow through the Sushumna, rouses the gastric fire, makes the loins lean, and removes all diseases".

The Sitting Forward Bend gives a complete stretch to the whole posterior of the body - to the hips, the spine, and the muscles of the back and legs. Indeed, Paschimothanasana is derived from the Sanskrit word for "west", which is often used as a metaphor for the back of the body.

This asana tones the abdominal organs and keeps them free from sluggishness. It also tones the kidneys, rejuvenates the whole spine and improves the digestion.

The spines of animals are horizontal and their hearts are below the spine. This keeps them healthy and gives them great power of endurance. In humans the spine is vertical and the heart is not lower than the spine, so that they soon feel the effects of exertion and are also susceptible to the heart diseases. In Paschimottanasana the spine is kept straight and horizontal and the heart is at a lower level than the spine. A good stay in this pose massages the heart, the spinal column and the abdominal organs, which feel refreshed and the mind is rested. Due to the extra stretch given to the pelvic region more oxygenated blood is brought there and the gonad glands absorb the required nutrition from the blood. This increases vitality, helps to cure impotency and leads to sex control. Hence, this asana was called Brahmacharyasana. Brahmacharya means celibacy and a Brahmachari is one who has controlled the sex appetite.

Physical Benefits
  • Powerfully massages all the abdominal organs.
  • Stimulates and tones the digestive organs, increases peristalsis, and relieves constipation and other problems.
  • Counteracts obesity and enlargement of the spleen and liver.
  • Regulates the pancreatic function, providing a valuable aid for those with diabetes or hypoglycaemia.
  • Mobilizes the joints and increases elasticity in the lumbar spine.
  • Relieves compression of the spine and sciatica.
  • Strengthens and stretches the hamstrings.

Mental Benefits
  • Greatly enhances concentration and mental endurance.
  • Invigorates the mind and nervous system, controlling many nervous complaints.

Pranic Benefits
  • Balances th prana; meditation is possible only when the vital energy is centred.
  • Establishes perennial "youth".

Common Faults
  • Knees are bent upwards.
  • Back is rounded and the head, rather than the chest, is down towards the knees.
  • The feet are apart and the toes are rotating outwards.
  • Toes are not pointed back.

Note: Please perform the yoga under the guide of a certified yoga teacher especially for beginner. You are at your own risk and responsible if you perform on your own. Whatever provided here is just act as an information.

Source from Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
                      Yoga Mind & Body by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre