5. पश्चिमोत्तानासन – Paścimottānāsana - Seated Forward Bend

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres & Ashrams

Group Asana - Sitting forward bend, From the collection of: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres & Ashrams
Paścimottāsana/ Seated Forward Bend comes from the Sanskrit paścima meaning west or the back of the body, uttāna meaning intense stretch or straight or extended and āsana meaning posture. 
The position is known for its powerful stimulating effect on the digestive system. It regulates the pancreas and so is helpful to diabetics. The entire nervous system is toned, generating a feeling of calmness. It gives a full stretch to the back of body from ankles to neck, elongating and opening up the spine, often compressed by a sedentary lifestyle. Promotes humility.

In a seated position, keep the legs straight and toes back towards the body. Inhale and stretch both arms up and over the head.

Retaining the stretch and bending from the hips, exhale and stretch forward, reaching for the toes.

Keeping the back as straight as possible, catch hold of the toes. If you are unable to reach the toes, hold the ankles or the shins.

Bring the abdomen as close to the thighs as possible. Keep the knees straight. Hold the feet together, do not permit the feet and legs to rotate outward. Have the feet flat with the toes back towards the head. Imagine you are breathing into the hips and feel the body sinking down with each breath. Do not bounce or try to force the body down.

To come out of the position.
Inhale and stretch up to the starting position with the arms up.

Counterpose - Inclined Plane. Bring the hands flat on the floor behind the back. Bring the shoulder blades together and drop the head back.

Lifting the hips up as high as possible try to bring the feet flat onto the floor.
Keep the feet together, do not turn them outwards. Keep the knees straight.
Hold for 10 seconds increasing up to 1 minute.

Sitting forward bend - wrong method, From the collection of: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres & Ashrams
Seated  Forward Bend common mistakes
The back should not be rounded.  The forehead should not be forced to the knees. The legs should not bend. The feet should not be apart.
Inclined plane - wrong method, From the collection of: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres & Ashrams
Inclined Plane common mistakes
Don't stay on the heels, the feet should be together and pointed towards the floor. The body should not be sagging.


• Restores flexibility to the back of the body, alleviating muscular tension in the back.
• Corrects exaggerated lower back curve.
• Massages all abdominal organs, especially the liver and spleen. Improves digestion. Intestines are regulated, peristalsis increased and constipation combated.
• It helps to regulate pancreatic functions, which control carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels, making it valuable for diabetes patients and people with hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
• The entire nervous system is invigorated.
• The mobility of the joints is enhanced, the spine becomes elastic and a youthful body is maintained.
• Regular practice helps to prevent compression of the spine and sciatica (pain along course of sciatic nerve, esp. in leg).
• It stretches the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your upper legs), lumbar and sacral regions, improves postural alignment and reduces nervous tension in the body.


• The mind is calmed.
• This pose requires conscious control to align toes, knees, and neck correctly, and conscious letting go, by allowing gravity to pull the spine into the pose. Achieving control with detachment is a benefit that can be applied to daily life, as well as in the practice of meditation.

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Anyone learning these postures should only do so under the supervision of a competent teacher. The instructions shared as part of this exhibit are for reference and knowledge only. Anyone following these on their own, they do so at their own risk. Persons with health issues and or during pregnancy are advised to consult a medical expert before attempting any of the postures.

Demonstrators in the photographs: Kannan, Padmavati, Ananda, Eri, Asha, Shreyas, Rohit  

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