The pose of the month for October 2018 is the humble seated forward bend, known in Sanskrit as Paschimottanasana (intense west-facing stretch).
Paschimottanasana is one of the most popular poses in yoga and has been one of the very first poses to be mentioned in the yoga texts, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, dating back to the 15th century. And even today, when we talk about general fitness, one of the first questions to pop up is “can you touch your toes?” Paschimottanasana embodies the spirit of this very question. And yet, even though this posture is common, and some might say, a beginner posture, there is still a lot to learn from continued practice of this posture, which is why it is the Pose of the Month!
For example, Paschimottanasana is a great exhibit of why the abdomen needs to be engaged in most postures including forward bends — the reason is that once the abdomen is engaged, the spine is straightened and this allows the bend to come from the hips and hamstrings rather than the lower back. This is true to such an extent that the benefits of Paschimottanasana are said to be visible more prominently on the abdomen than any other part of the body! This is also a key reason every pose is traditionally associated with a point of gaze as well — as the spine follows the head, if the gaze is maintained forward towards the big toes, the spine straightens out as well!
Let’s start off the first post with contraindications — conditions in which the posture should NOT be done, and benefits — effects on your body on regular practice of this posture.
Do not practice Paschimottanasana if you have the following contraindications:
- Slipped disc
Regular practice of Paschimottanasana gives you the following benefits:
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Improves digestion
- Reduces excess weight around abdomen
- Calms brain and relieves mild depression
Watch out posts in the upcoming weeks on preparatory poses to get ready for Paschimottanasana, steps to get into the final posture, variations of the pose and more!