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Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
Seated Forward Bend lengthens the entire posterior kinetic chain at the back of your body. This stretch extends from your calf muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius) into your hamstrings, to your gluteus maximus and up to your back through your quadratus lumborus and erector spinae. During this strong extension of the back of your body the mind is quietened, the nervous system is calmed and the ego is subdued.
SEATED FORWARD BEND (PASCHIMOTTANASANA)
PASCHIMA = WEST OR BACK OF BODY | UTTANA = INTENSE STRETCH | ASANA = POSE
MOVING INTO THE POSE
- Begin sitting upright in Staff Pose with straight legs.
- Inhale and lift your arms on either side of your ears.
- Exhale and tilt your pelvis forwards so your spine extends forwards.
- Fold forwards and hold the outer edges of your feet.
- Rest the front of your upper body on your legs.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
- Your focal point (drishti) is on your lower legs. Alternatively, close your eyes and draw your focus inwards.
- Avoid straining your neck by looking forwards. Instead keep your gaze down on your lower legs
LEGS & FEET
- Activate your quadriceps to straighten your legs.
- Feel the stretch of your hamstrings and calf muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius).
- Squeeze your thighs and knees together by engaging your adductor muscles on the insides of your legs.
- Press your heels away from you and draw your toes towards you. This lengthens your Achilles tendons.
- Keep your feet and ankles together.
- Tilt your pelvis forwards to create a forwards flexion of your lumbar spine.
- As your spine folds forwards feel your gluteus maximus and erector spinae lengthen.
- Focus on lengthening and elongating your spine from your lower back.
- Avoid rounding your spine.
- Bring your chest closer to your thighs by contracting your abdominal muscles. This action will lengthen and stretch your back muscles.
ARMS & SHOULDERS
- Use your biceps to bend your elbows and bring your upper body over your thighs.
- Soften your shoulders away from your ears by activating your lower trapezius muscles and focus on lengthening your neck.
- Use your rhomboids and middle trapezius to bring your shoulder blades towards the midline and to open your chest.
- Turn your shoulders outward to draw your upper body closer to your legs by using your infraspinatus and teres minor (rotator cuff) muscles.
- Hold the outside edges of your feet.
- Alternatively, hook your first and middle fingers around your big toes.
- Stretches your hamstrings, calf muscles and lower back.
- Creates length throughout the posterior kinetic chain of your body.
- Improves your posture
- Calms your nervous system.
- Focuses your mind.
VARIATIONS & MODIFICATIONS
- Use a yoga strap if you are unable to reach your feet with your hands.
- For a restful variation place a bolster or folded blanket on your shins and rest your forehead on the prop for 2-3 minutes.
- Practice with caution if you have a back issue and seek expert advice if necessary.
- If your lower back is injured, try bending your knees and support your knees by placing a blanket underneath them.
- Keep your knees slightly bent if you have a hamstring or calf muscle injury.