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Health Benefits of Paschimottanasana

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 29/12/2023
  • 2 min read

Yoga has been an inseparable component of Indian culture, and owing to its wide range of benefits, the practice has gained global recognition.

With various asanas - each with their distinct benefits, yoga can be an effective way to improve your overall health while building strength and flexibility.

So, if you have rolled out your yoga mat and are looking to get started with an exercise that will stretch your back to counter the effects of prolonged sitting, you can begin with Paschimottanasana yoga.

What is Paschimottanasana?

The Sanskrit term Paschimottanasana can be translated to “west stretching pose” because “paschim” means the west side.

Essentially, it is a seated forward bend pose that looks simple but is a struggle for most to perfect, as it requires dedication and great patience to master. It is a classic pose from Hatha yoga that provides an intense stretch for the dorsal part of your back, including the calves, hamstrings, and spine.

Paschimottanasana yoga awakens your Manipura chakra which controls the energy balance of the body by activating digestive fire. Activating this chakra is believed to regulate and enhance the functionality of the pancreas and digestive organs.

Some variations of the Paschimottanasana include:

Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana: This seated position helps to ease tension in your back muscles while also promoting flexibility in your hips and hamstrings.

It is called the Triang pose because it employs three limb parts which are knees, feet, and buttocks.

Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana: Also known as the upward-facing intense west stretch, this is a more challenging variation of Paschimottanasana.

To perform this asana, an individual has to balance on his/her sit bones with the legs stretched straight skyward and the hands holding onto the feet or legs.

Now that we know its meaning, let us dive into Paschimottanasana’s steps and benefits.

Paschimottanasana Benefits for Your Health

Paschimottanasana, or the seated forward bend pose, is packed with several benefits to one’s physical as well as mental health.

Here are some Paschimottanasana yoga benefits to encourage you to get started:

Stretches the Back and Shoulders:

Of the numerous Paschimottanasana benefits, the most important one is its ability to stretch the muscles in your back effectively.

This can help overcome the pain and stiffness in the back and shoulder muscles that affect individuals who are hunched behind devices all day. It also enhances the flexibility of your spine so back and shoulder pains can be eliminated.

Provides Relief from Hamstring Pain:

Tightness and aches in the hamstrings have become common in the current day and age owing to prolonged sitting and poor posture.

However, a regular practice of the Paschimottanasana can help relieve this hamstring pain. This is because one of the best seated forward bend benefits is that stretching the hamstrings increases blood circulation in this area, thereby eliminating pain.

Improves Mental Health:

Paschimottanasana yoga benefits are not limited to improving one’s physical health but it also improves the individual’s mental health.

Practising this asana can help relieve symptoms of stress and mild depression. In addition to this, the Paschimottanasana can also help soothe the symptoms of anxiety.

Calms the Nervous System:

Practising the Paschimottanasana can help an individual feel rejuvenated and refreshed because the asana has a calming effect on your brain and nervous system.

The asana harmonises pranic energies in the body, which reduces stress and prevents depressing thoughts.

Tones Internal Organs:

For a healthy body, the major internal organs such as kidneys, intestines, liver, and pancreas must be functioning efficiently.

Essential among seated forward bend benefits is its help in ensuring the smooth functioning of these internal organs. The Paschimottanasana can improve your digestive system and boost your metabolism.

Improves Blood Flow in the Pelvic Region:

Paschimottanasana improves blood circulation in the pelvic region, thereby improving its functionality. This can help alleviate or curb the symptoms of menopause in women.

To a certain extent, the seated forward bend can also control pain and complications in menstrual cycles.

Helps with Weight Management:

Obesity is the cause of several health concerns and ailments. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to prevent ailments.

Paschimottanasana can help maintain a healthy weight and may even help reduce belly fat.

Increases Appetite:

As practising the seated forward bend can help you burn fat and calories, it can increase your appetite.

An important aspect of this, however, is that while you may feel hungry, you will not have cravings for unhealthy foods that can lead to weight gain. This ensures that individuals opt for a nutritious meal that will keep them healthy.

Treats Hypertension and Infertility:

As the Paschimottanasana improves blood circulation in the pelvic region, it may help with problems concerning infertility, sexual desire, and impotence.

It may help increase fertility and heal physical conditions following childbirth.

Improves Sleep:

The seated forward bend pose is considered highly effective in treating insomnia. This is done by stimulating blood circulation throughout your body that effectively targets low-energy centres.

So, it is often recommended to perform the Paschimottanasana before bedtime for a sound and deep sleep.

After having explored the many benefits of the Paschimottanasana, let's explore how we can do this asana at home.

Paschimottanasana Procedure

Yoga is not merely about physical health; one has to be patient with the practice and trust that one will eventually get better at performing the asanas. This also applies to Paschimottanasana, which may seem uncomplicated but, in reality, is a challenging pose to master.

Let’s take a look at the step-by-step Paschimottanasana procedure so you can start practising the asana:

Step 1: Roll out your yoga mat and sit straight in Dandasana (with your legs stretched forward and toes flexing towards you)

Step 2: Take a deep breath while raising your hands above your head and stretching them as much as you can

Step 3: As you exhale, bend forward while ensuring that the fold is coming from the hip joints

Step 4: Try to stretch such that you can touch your toes, and if you cannot reach your toes, try to get as close to them as you can.

Step 5: Now breathe in and slightly lift your head to elongate and stretch your spine

Step 6: Continue to exhale while moving your navel towards your knees so that finally, your head is resting on your knees

Step 7: Try to hold this pose for as long as you can and then slowly return to your original position before performing another round of the asana

As you go through the steps of Paschimottanasana yoga, you realise that the pose is challenging to practise. To keep you from getting discouraged, there are also some easy modifications to the seated forward bend pose that you can start with.

Easy Modifications of the Paschimottanasana

Here are some tips to make Paschimottanasana easier for beginners:

To support your torso while performing the asana, you can place a bolster on your thighs. This will help you stay longer in the position.

You can wrap a yoga strap around the balls of your feet to prevent stress on the hamstrings and reduce their tightness

When performing the Paschimottanasana, your back should not be hunched. To prevent this, you can place a blanket under your hips to support your pelvis.

If you are experiencing abdominal pain, increase the distance between your legs to relieve some pressure from your stomach

If you experience chronic backache, keep your spine neutral with a slight forward pelvic tilt. You should also relax your groins and widen your hips

The aforementioned modifications can make it easier for you to start your practice of Paschimottanasana. Gradually, with regular practice, the asana becomes easier to perform, and you can overcome back aches while elongating your spine.

Now that we have acquainted ourselves with Paschimottanasana’s steps and benefits, it is important to know when you should not perform the asana.

Paschimottanasana Contraindications

Avoid practising the Paschimottanasana if you are suffering from chronic back pain, spondylosis, hernia, slipped discs, or acute abdominal pain, as it might worsen the condition

As the seated forward bend pose puts pressure on the stomach, it should not be practised when suffering from diarrhoea or stomach ulcers

Individuals with heart ailments, asthma, or other respiratory problems must refrain from performing the Paschimottanasana to avoid complications of their conditions

If you have recently undergone abdominal surgery, you must avoid practising the Paschimottanasana as it may open the stitches or the wound and cause bleeding

Pregnant women must also not practise the Paschimottanasana as it adds pressure on the lower abdomen

Women on their periods can also avoid this asana as the pressure on the stomach may worsen their cramps

If you experience sharp pain or tightness in your hamstrings or abdomen, retract to the original position

It is important to be mindful of Paschimottanasana contraindications so the asana does not negatively affect your health.

The Bottom Line

Paschimottanasana is an excellent stretch for your back and hips and is highly recommended for runners who have tight hamstrings. It is also a great pose for individuals who have sedentary jobs and experience stiffness in the back and shoulders.

Just as Paschimottanasana has several health benefits, it is possible to safeguard your health further and ensure the best medical treatment by availing of the many benefits of health insurance.

In times of soaring medical costs, a health insurance policy takes care of all medical expenses so you can focus on your recovery instead of worrying about the bills.

In addition to coverage against basic health concerns, one can further enhance their coverage by opting for critical illness insurance that secures your health against life-threatening diseases. It allows you to choose the best healthcare facility so you can receive the best treatment for your condition.

However, before choosing a policy, insurance seekers must carefully analyse their needs and compare different health insurance plans so they can choose the best coverage for themselves.

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