Paschimottanasana - The Posterior Stretch

Asana practice in Yoga Meditation is quite different from that of modern yoga studios. Paschimottanasana is described here for those participating in Yoga Mentoring with Radhikaji.

Paschimottanasana, the Posterior Stretch is called so because it stretches the back, the posterior body, entirely. It strengthens the middle and lower back so that one can sit longer in meditation without backache or support.

Preparatory Pose 1 for Paschimottanasana 

Sit with the head, neck and trunk straight. 

Extend legs in front of you as far apart as possible.

Inhaling, raise the arms overhead, stretch.

Exhaling, bend forward towards right leg, keeping back straight and head between arms.

Place the hands as close to the right foot as possible. 

Breathe normally. With every exhalation let your body relax deeper into this pose. Hold this position for 10 seconds or as long as is comfortable.

The knees must remain on the ground.

Repeat the above, bending towards the left leg.

Repeat the same, bending forward between the legs.

Practice this daily for a few weeks. When you are comfortable doing this posture you can try the next level.

Preparatory Pose 2 for Paschimottanasana

Sit with the head, neck and trunk straight. Keep legs extended in front of the body and feet together. 

Bend the right leg at the knee and place the sole of the right foot on the inside of the left thigh, as high as possible.

Inhaling, raise the arms overhead and stretch.

Exhaling bend forward as far as possible, keeping the back straight and heads between the arms. 

Rest the hands on the left leg. 

The left knee should remain on the floor, the feet and toes pointing upwards.

Breath normally. With every exhalation let your body relax deeper into this pose. 

If possible grasp the lower leg, or foot or even the big toe. 

With every exhalation let your body relax deeper in to this pose until the head rests gently on the knee. 

Hold this position for 10 seconds or as long as comfortable.

Inhale, and keeping the arms close to the head, slowly stretch up and return to the sitting position. 

Exhale, lower the arms and relax. 

Repeat with the right leg extended and the left knee bent. 

Take your time with this preparatory pose. It may take more a few weeks to a few months to master this pose. Once you have perfected this, you may aspire to master Paschimottanasana, the Posterior Stretch.

Paschimottanasana: The Posterior Stretch

Sit with the head, neck and trunk straight and the legs together, extended in front of the body. 

Inhaling raise the arms overhead and stretch.

Exhaling, bend forward as far as possible, keeping back straight and head between arms.

Rest hands on both legs. The both knees should remain on the floor.

Breath normally. 

With every exhalation, relax deeper into the posture. With daily practice over weeks, you will eventually be able to relax in to this posture until your hands can grasp the lower legs, then the feet and later the big toes. Finally you may be able to rest your head on the knees

Breath normally and hold the posture at your comfortable level for 10 seconds or as long as you can. 

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