Paschimottanasana a.ka. “Intense West-Side Stretch Pose” is a seated forward bend position that works your abdominal organs and helps dissolves fat from the waistline. The 'west-side' refers to the posterior side of your body, as this this forward bend works your hamstrings and other muscles along the back of your body.
How to get into the position
From Dandasana or ‘Staff Pose’ i.e. sitting on the floor with both of your legs stretched out in front of you; inhale and raise your arm above your head to elongate your spine. Then exhale and fold forward (sitting back on your sitting bones) lifting your elbows. Fix your vision point on your big toes, as it is important to look forward when you fold forward (if you look down as you fold forward your back will arch and the load will go to your lower back and may cause injury).
Do not bend your knees or else your torso collapses and your hamstrings are not engaged. It is also important not to over-use your arms to pull your feet to stretch further forward. Forcing the position this way compromises the correct alignment of your shoulders; your shoulders should be rolled forwards.
Hold the position for five full breaths. On the inhalation, extend your spine. On the exhalation, lift your elbows and move your shoulders forward to fold forward.
Stimulates your liver and kidneys and or uterus and ovaries
Stretches your hamstrings, spine and shoulders
Calms your mind
Contraindications and Cautions
Avoid this posture if you have any issues with your lower back like a slipped disk or the like.
Damian Cadman-Jones is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga™