The Numerous Benefits of Back Stretching Poses


‘’, also called Paschimottanasana, is a popular seated yoga pose. It is often performed at the end of yoga class when the body is more loose and able to stretch.

This seemingly simple pose has some of the most benefits out any yoga pose. In order to gain the most benefits, repeat this pose daily or as often as possible.

To perform this pose, sit up straight, with legs elongated in front of you, hands on knees. Inhale, while raising hands above you and exhale while bending forward. Keep the back straight and hold on to your toes, ankles or shins. Concentrate on the navel and breathe deeply. Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes

To release, inhale, raise arms back up, exhale, bring the hands to the knees. There are three other ways to perform this pose including the dynamic back stretch, involving rocking forwards and backwards.

In another version, you can spread the legs wide apart, stretching to each knee and then to the middle (hands on toes).

According to the Yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, these benefits include:

Pranic currents rise through Sushumna

Prana, is your vital energy and Sushumna is the main pathway (nadi) through which prana can travel up to your third eye chakra. The pose stretches the whole spinal column and central nervous system through which sushumna runs, thus enabling nervous and pranic impulses to pass directly up to the higher centers.

Where there is a lot of tension in the body and mind, this pose, helps remove it by regulating the adrenal glands and the whole system. In fact, the numerous effects promote health and harmony.

The digestive Fire increases

As the energy goes upwards it activates your Manipura Chakra (third solar plexus Chakra) and releases your prana upwards. This in turn, stretches the digestive organs and tract.

The visceral organs are massaged, in particular the pancreas, spleen, kidney, liver, reproductive organs, and adrenal glands and abdominal muscles. Therefore, it is very useful in the yogic management of digestive disorders, especially diabetes, constipation, flatulence, and loss of appetite.

The body is toned

The back, shoulder, arm, and leg muscles are toned by stretching them in a relaxed manner without straining.

The abdomen becomes flat

Seated forward bend, particularly the version where you rock from laying to forward bend several times (called Dynamic Back Stretch-Gatyatmak Paschimottanasana), helps remove excess fat deposits from the abdomen and thighs.

The practioner can reduce and possibly eradicate some disorders and diseases

For example, the reproductive organs are toned and sexual disorders can be relieved. Women can utilize this asana to regulate their menstrual cycle. Alleviates high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis

Stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings

This is what we usually know the benefit to be of Forward Seated Bend. If I am not warmed up, and even if I am, I like to engage and pull up my knee cap so I don’t pull a hamstring. Trust me, a pulled hamstring is a big downer!

If you have back injuries, asthma or diarrhea avoid this pose or consult a teacher to assist you.

To Modify:

  • sit up on a folded blanket in this pose
  • hold a strap around the feet
  • place a rolled up blanket under their knees.

The increase in energy, stomach flattening, digestion and other health benefits are enough to have me go practice Seated Forward Bend right now and I hope you do too, just remember to warm-up a bit before practicing this stretch pose!

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