in Sanskrit, Paschima refers to back or west, and Uttana means extension or bend. Thus, the term “Pashchimottanasana” is translated as “the posture of posterior extension”. According to the structure of the Yogic “anatomy”, other parts of the physical body are also associated with cardinal points. Thus, man’s face corresponds to the east, feet – to the south, and head – to the north.
The name of this posture has an esoteric meaning as well: in the secret language of Yogis, the west stands for the central nadi in the subtle anatomy of the human being (corresponding to the spine in the physical structure) that is Sushumna Nadi. Therefore, in some secret treaties this posture is referred to as Paschima Marga or “The Western Path”.
Considering its subtle effects that generate accelerated spiritual transformations (owing to the predominant flow of the subtle energy (Pranic energy) through the middle posterior nadi (Sushumna Nadi)) this posture is also known as “The Rising on the Western Path”.
How to perform Pashchimottanasana:
- The Yogic secret treaty Gherandha Samhita notes:
“Both feet are stretched together on the ground, without touching each other. The toes have to be firmly grasped with the hands, making an effort. Then the head must be placed on the knees. This is Pashchimottanasana.”
- The preliminary position is sitting on the floor, feet stretched in front of you.
- The first phase of this asana is dynamic. This implies that we bend over a few times, and then we come back to our original position, making the tendons more elastic.
- Then, if possible, grasp the toes with the fingers. If you cannot do this in the beginning, simply grasp the ankles or other accessible part of the feet.
- Relax the back and the neck, maintaining the feet straight.
- After perseverant practice of this asana we will be able to grasp the sole of the feet with the palms.
While we perform this asana, we focus to perceive the telluric/earthly energies flowing freely through the back, arms and feet, forming a circuit. In the same time, we perceive fine vibrations at the base of the spine, in the area between anus and sex, signifying that Muladhara Chakra is activated. We also sense that we regained our full vigor and that idleness and inertia are gone.
women should not perform this asana during the last months of pregnancy. Also, the execution of this asana should be avoided right after eating.
Pashchimottanasana strengthens the thighs and tendons. It eliminates arthritic pain, sciatica, sciatic nerve neuralgia, pains in the back, feet, knees and thighs. It leads to the healing of lumbago crisis, ads strengths and resistance to the spine.
For persons with big hips and buttocks this asana is excellent as it harmonizes the physical structure and it is extremely efficient in fighting obesity. This asana also has beneficialial effects on the waist, making it thinner, and eliminates the unaesthetic deposits of fat from the abdomen and hips.
It has beneficialial effects on all abdominal organs. Liver idleness, dyspepsia (difficult digestion), belch and gastritis are gradually cured.
This posture is recommended for diabetes and hemorrhoids. Constipation is presently cured.
Pashchimottanasana has beneficialial effects on male prostate and female uterus and eggs. This asana favors a better blood circulation in the entire body and especially in the pelvic area, owing to the extension of this particular region. The sexual glands may easily absorb the necessary quantity of blood, generating as a result an increase in virility. Impotence and sexual weakness are consequently rapidly eliminated.
In addition, this asana eliminates numerous disorders of the bladder, kidneys, intestine and stomach. It induces a healthy and balanced appetite.
Through its practice the lymphatic circulation is normalized, which makes the organism immune to infections. Dermatological diseases are cured. Unpleasant body odors are gradually disappearing through the perseverant practice of this asana. The face becomes radiant and the eyes gain a specific magnetism/a mesmerizing effect.
The practice of this asana, owing to the decongestion of the solar plexus, helps in the diffusion of anxious states. The mind becomes stable and calm, the breath calms down; therefore this asana is indicated to easily irritable beings.
The secret Yogic texts note that the practitioner of this asana must not fear old age. The renowned Yogi Brahmachari even asserted that this asana makes it possible (for the one who practices it correctly and daily) to live up to 300 years and even more. Its effects are directly proportional with the amount of time of practice.
This is the description of Gorakshanatha in Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “Pashchimottanasana, first among asanas, directs the flow of Prana Vayu along Sushumna Nadi. This asana stimulates gastric secretion and removes fat from the abdominal area, leaving it supple. It also confers equality and equilibrium to the nerves.”
In some Yogic treaties, owing to its exceptional qualities and numerous beneficial effects, this asana was named Urgasana (the excellent posture).