Stretch your body and mind to release stress and tension with Seated Forward Bend Pose!
You may think of stretching as a practice to help release tight muscles, but did you know that stretches can also help your mind unwind as well? It’s true – many stretching poses are not only relaxing for the body, but also the mind. When you’re feeling busy, rushed, and stressed, it’s likely that your mind could use a stretch as well as your body!
Many of us spend a lot of time seated, moving our brains more than our bodies. This can lead to tight muscles and pain – especially in the hamstrings, hips, and back. Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana) is a wonderful beginner pose for stretching tight hamstrings and helping to relieve stress and tension.
Seated Forward Bend (also sometimes called Seated Forward Fold) also stretches the spine and shoulders, helps relieve menstrual discomfort, calms the brain and may help with mild depression and anxiety, and is also thought to stimulate the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus, improve digestion, soothe headaches, and reduce fatigue.
If you have a back injury, you should practice this pose only under the guidance of an experienced yoga therapist or instructor with experience dealing with similar injuries.
Below are instructions for performing Seated Forward Bend pose, according to YogaJournal.com:
How to Do It:
Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Press actively through your heels. Rock slightly onto your left buttock, and pull your right sitting bone away from the heel with your right hand. Repeat on the other side. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.
Draw the inner groins deep into the pelvis. Inhale, and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. If possible take the sides of the feet with your hands, thumbs on the soles, elbows fully extended; if this isn’t possible, loop a strap around the foot soles, and hold the strap firmly. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent.
Watch A Demonstration of Seated Forward Bend
When you are ready to go further, don’t forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend, whether your hands are on the feet or holding the strap. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor; if holding the strap, lighten your grip and walk the hands forward, keeping the arms long. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last.
With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates and lengthens almost imperceptibly with the breath. Eventually you may be able to stretch the arms out beyond the feet on the floor.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis.
To modify this pose, place a strap around the soles of your feet and hold onto the ends of the strap as you fold. You can also place a rolled up blanket behind your knees if you are extremely stiff. To deepen the pose, clasp your hands around the soles of your feet, or place a block against the soles of your feet and hold onto the ends of the block.