PASCHIMOTTANASANA (BACK STRETCHING POSE) – Awareness

Awareness should be directed towards breathing, physical movement and relaxation of the body while moving into the final pose. In the final pose be aware of the breathing pattern.

Duration

Beginners should do at least three rounds (as described in stage 3) every day.

Those who can do stage 4 should remain in the final position for as long as they can do so comfortably. Three minutes is a reasonable time for general health benefits. If you want to induce profound states of relaxation, try to hold it for longer periods, up to say fifteen minutes, but this is only for those people who have been practising asanas for some time.

Sequence

Paschimottanasana should be followed by a backward bending asana such as bhujangasana’ or shalabhasana-. It can also be practised after backward bending asanas as a counterpose.

For general health benefits the asana can be done at any time during your asana program. However, we particularly recommend that this asana be done immediately before meditational practice. This especially applies if you only want to practise a meditational technique without other yogic practices, perhaps because of lack of spare time. Paschimottanasana is a wonderful preparatory technique, for it quickly loosens up the body, removing stiffness and induces high states of relaxation and wakefulness.

Limitations

People who suffer from slipped disc or sciatica are advised not to practise paschimottanasana. Allow at least three hours to elapse after food before doing this asana.

Benefits

The asana stretches and tones the spinal and hamstring muscles and the associated nerves. Because it improves the efficiency of the spinal nerves in particular, it has beneficial repercussions throughout the entire body. It loosens the hip joints. It helps to remove excess fat in the abdominal region. The asana tones all the abdominal organs, including the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and adrenal glands. As such it helps to remove diabetes, flatulence, constipation, etc. It has been found useful for alleviating various types of sexual maladies, for the asana gives a direct massage of the pelvic region.

This is an asana that is traditionally well known for its utility in harmonizing nervous and pranic energies within the body. As such it is very useful for helping to bring about states of meditation.

Advanced practices from the final pose

The two following practices can be performed from the final pose. As such they should only be attempted by people who can easily assume and stay in the final pose. Both these methods accentuate the influence of the asana on the physical and pranic body and mind.

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