In the Sanskrit language, paschima means ’back’ or ‘west’. The word mottana means to ‘give mobility to the spinal cord (tan) by stretching’. So this yoga asana can be rightly known as the ‘back stretch pose’.
Pascimottanasana is a commonly practiced technique in yoga. However, to be correctly executed, it requires a great deal of flexibility in the hips as well as in the muscles of the lower back and the legs. Thus, a fair amount of preparatory work is required before one can rightfully benefit from its practice.
Nevertheless, pascimottanasana is a potent practice and one that the beginner should engage in as best as possible, slowly over time developing the ability to assume the complete position.
- Begin in shava asana.
- Inhale slowly and perform the ‘yogic sit-up’, coming into a seated position on the floor with your legs stretched straight forward and together.
- Exhale fully.
- Inhale again (to a 6-count) and raise the arms in a wide arc into the danda asana position.
- Hold the breath briefly while you stretch the arms high overhead.
Note: Feel the ‘elongating stretch’ from the tip of your tailbone, right through the entire spine, shoulders and arms to the hands.
- With a controlled exhalation, slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your arms and entire spinal column as straight and extended as possible.
- Allow your hands to grasp as far down the legsas possible, either:
- wrapping the hands right around the soles of the feet,
- grasping overtop of all of the toes, catching the big toes with your thumbs, index and middle fingers,
- or holding the ankles, or as far down the lower legs as possible.
Note: The legs must remain perfectly straight. Therefore, if flexibility is limited, reach only as far forward as possible.
- Relax the head, arms and entire upper torso.
- Maintain this position and breathe in a deep and relaxed manner for 20-30 seconds.
- Come out of the posture in the reverse manner and remain in shava asana for a few relaxing breaths.
Effects and Benefits
Pascimottanasana is considered one of the most potent and powerful asanas in the hatha yoga tradition, and the list of benefits from its practise is long.
Practise of this asana ensures the proper circulation of the blood in the entire body. None of the abdominal organs escape its stimulating action.
Among other problems, pascimottana asana combats constipation, dyspepsia, gastritis, diabetes, diarrhoea, and enlargement of the spleen and liver. It stimulates the kidneys and gallbladder and helps with infections and other diseases of the urinary bladder.
Some other notable effects:
- Improves elasticity and flexibility of the spine.
- Relieves sciatica, backache, arthritis, pain in the knees, thighs and legs, hyperlordosis, lumbago, myalgia and all sorts of other back conditions.
- For men, it benefits the prostate and also helps normalize sexual activity, remedy impotency and nocturnal emissions.
- Combats obesity by expelling fat from the waist and abdominal region.
- Stimulates the appetite, removes lethargy, weakness and anxiety in the being…