Seated Forward Bend
The Seated Forward Bend Pose or Paschimottanasana stretches and lengthens the back of the legs and torso, and strengthens the abdomen in the front of the body.
The Seated Forward Bend Pose can be done by:
1. Begin sitting down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
2. Sit upright with your torso, while you keep the legs stretched. If your lower back is rounding a lot or if you feel the tension in your hamstrings, bend your knees until you are seated upright, or sit upon a cushion or blanket.
3. Inhale and lengthen your spine, while bringing your lower belly and chest up, and simultaneously drawing your shoulders down and back.
4. Exhale and bend forward from the front of your hips, and place your hands on either side of your legs. Keep lengthening and extending the front of your body forward.
5. Place your hands alongside your legs, shins, ankles or feet – whatever is accessible with your current flexibility. Your feet want to stay flexed and active to allow the stretch to extend towards the back of your knees and legs.
6. Stay here for a few long and deep breaths.
7. Avoid rounding the back too much and instead with every inhale focus on reaching your chest forward. Try moving a little deeper into the forward bend with every exhale by folding a little further forward from your hips.
8. Keep your gaze looking out towards your feet, as you hold this position for few more deep breaths.
9. Slowly come out of the pose by gently lifting the torso back into an upright sitting position.
Read the following cautions to stay safe:
• This exercise should not be performed if you have any type of back injury.
• Accept and respect your body’s limits and range of abilities.
• If you are concerned about anything with this pose, please contact your physician about whether this practice is good for you.
• You could use a strap around the balls of your feet, so you can extend and lengthen the legs as much as possible, gently pulling yourself into the forward bend with your arms.
• You could bend the knees slightly, so it is easier to fold forward from the hips.
• Another way to make the bend easier is by sitting on the edge of a cushion so that your hips are higher off the floor and there is more space to fold forward.