Forward Extensions

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Pascimottanasana, Intense West Stretch Pose
Level: Intermediate

Pashchima = the West, or the back of the body. Uttana = intense stretch.

This is the classic forward bend which is, as the name suggests, (“west” referring to the back of the body) a stretch of the entire back of the body from the heels to the head. All the single-leg forward bends described above can help prepare the body, particularly the backs of the legs and the back, for this pose.

Organizing the pose

    • Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Sit up on blankets if you have difficulty lifting up out of the lower back and extending forward.
    • Exhale, reach forward and take hold of the outer edges of the feet. Loop a belt around the feet if you are unable to reach them comfortably.
    • Inhale, pull the arms back, lift and open the chest.
    • Exhale, bend the elbows out to the side and draw the trunk out over the legs to bring the chin to the shins.
    • Hold this position.
    • Inhale and lift up, extending the trunk once again.
    • Exhale back to Dandasana (Staff Pose).

Practice Points

    • Spread the toes and the balls of the feet.
    • Press the heels and thighs down.
    • Soften the groins and lower abdomen.
    • Extend the upper abdomen and chest towards the feet.
    • Lengthen evenly through the sides of the trunk.
    • Soften the shoulders.
    • Broaden the chest and collarbones.
    • Soften the neck, throat and jaw.