Ardha paschimottanasana is a seated asana which is helpful in improving posture and calming the mind. It is also beneficial for digestive system and increases flexibility of hip joints.
The name comes from union of Sanskrit words, “ardha” meaning “half”; “paschima” meaning “back” or “west”; uttana, meaning “intense stretch”; and asana, meaning “pose” .
How to do Ardh Paschimottanasana ?
- Sit with the legs outstretched and the feet together.
- Bend the left leg, placing the heel of the foot against the perineum and the sole of the foot against the inside of the right thigh. Keep the left knee on the floor.
- Place the hands on top of the right knee, keeping the spine straight and the back muscles relaxed.
- This is the starting position.
- Slowly bend forward, sliding the hands down the right leg, and grasp the right foot. If possible, hold the big toe with the index finger, middle finger and thumb of the left hand, and the outside edge of the foot with the right hand.
- Try to touch the knee with the forehead.
- This is the final position. Keep the back relaxed and do not strain.
- Hold the position for as long as is comfortable.
- Return to the starting position and rest the hands on the knees.
- Change sides and repeat with the right leg bent and the left leg straight.
- Practice up to 5 times with each leg.
How to breathe during Ardh Paschimottanasana ?
- Inhale in the starting position.
- Retain the breath outside if holding the final position for a short time. Breathe normally if holding the position for longer.
- Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Awareness during Ardh Paschimottanasana ?
- Physical: On the abdomen, relaxation of the back muscles or the slow breathing process.
- Spiritual: On Swadisthana Chakra..
Contra Indications ?
- Chronic constipation (the intestines first need to be cleansed through the practice of Shatkarma).
- Slipped disc, sciatica or chronic back pain.
What are the advantages of Ardh Paschimottanasana ?
- Stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility in the hip joints.
- Tones and massages the entire abdominal and pelvic region including the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and adrenal glands.
- Has beneficial effects on the digestive system, helps vital energy to circulate in the pancreas and kidneys, and removes excess fat from the abdominal area. It also helps alleviate disorders of the urogenital system.
- Relieves stiffness in the muscles of the back.
- In yoga therapy it is used for the management of prolapse, menstrual disorders, sluggish liver, diabetes colitis, kidney complaints, bronchitis and eosinophilia.
- It also loosens up the legs in preparation for meditation asanas.
This asana should precede or follow backward bending asanas such as Chakrasana, Bhujangasana or Matsyasana.