Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stretch it out with Paschimottanasana

August - Pose of the Month

End of summer. End of practice. End of the day. Paschimottanasana is a forward bend that helps to calms a distracted mind and end unnecessary thoughts. A deceptively simple looking pose, it is an intense and rewarding pose and a very soothing stretch for the entire back, from your heels to your neck, rejuvenating your entire system.

Benefits of this pose include but are not limited to:

Stress and mild depression relief
Fatigue, headache and anxiety reduction
Spine, shoulders and hamstrings lengthening
Digestion improvement.

How to –

1. Come into a seated position on the floor with legs stretched straight forward and together.

2. Exhale fully.

3. Inhale again and raise the arms overhead. Feel the ‘elongating stretch’ from the tip of your tailbone, right through the entire spine, shoulders and arms to the hands.

4. With an exhale, slowly bend forward at the waist, keeping your arms and back as straight and extended as possible.

5. Allow your hands to grasp as far down the legs as possible, either:

a. wrapping the hands right around the soles of the feet,

b. grasping overtop of all of the toes, catching the big toes with your thumbs, index and middle fingers,

c. or holding the ankles, or as far down the lower legs as possible.

6. Relax the head, arms and entire upper torso. Do not let the legs roll outward; pull up the outer thigh muscles and keep the knees pressed down. Stretch forward and rest the front of the body on the legs.

7. Maintain this position and breathe in a deep and relaxed manner for 20-30 seconds.

8. Inhale, come up.

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