Seated Forward Bend Yoga Pose (Paschimottanasana)
How to do this pose: sit on the mat in Dandasana (staff pose) with leg out straight before you. Make certain to be sitting with spine erect; if needed pull out the flesh of the buttocks muscle to sit squarely on the sitting bones. Knees are as straight as comfortably possible, pull the kneecaps up to help release the hamstrings, feet are flexed so toes are pointing straight up. Begin with arms at your sides, lift the torso up out of the hip basin, and elongate the neck. Fully exhale to engage the abdominal muscles, on the inhalation raise the arms, palms facing each other, pull the kneecaps up and as you exhale fold forward over the thighs, as you do this the abs press to the spine while the spine stretches upward. Reach for the feet, the ankles, the calf what ever you can reach, let the chest rest on the thighs and the head will come down last. Relax in the pose. Scan the body to adjust and extend as needed. Breath 5 breathes in the pose. To break the Forward Seated Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana) power up the shoulders and with arms extended raise the torso to sit straight up, bring the hands down to your sides. Repeat 2-3 times.
Modifications: Use a Yoga strap around the thighs to provide support in the pose and to raise awareness of hip alignment. A Yoga strap can be fastened around the feet to be used to gently pull the torso nearer to the feet.
Benefits: include stretches the calves, back of the thighs, the spine, opens the rib cage which improves respiration, strengthens the abs, front of the thighs, energizes the arms and shoulders and relaxes the neck.
Precautions: those with a recent shoulder, hamstring or calf muscle injury should avoid this pose. There should only be a feeling of stretching, never any pain doing any pose.