The name of this asana is composed from the Sanskrit roots: purva=sunrise; uttana =maximum stretch; and asana=bodily position.
The name of the counter pose Paschimotanasana is composed from the Sanskrit roots: paschimo=sunset; uttana=maximum stretch; asana=bodily position – a.k.a. The Asana of the Clench.
For an uninitiated person, the Sanskrit roots are impossible to decipher. Purvottanasana, the posture that stretches us towards the east has no particular sense. Yogis did not chose such a name by accident, but to protect the secrets of the asanas from prying and immoral people.
In yoga the front of the body is referred to as east, and the back of the body is referred to as west.
There is not a literal connection to the sunrise or the sunset, the terms refer to the processes of resonance with the subtle pranic energies.
When the subtle flow of energy enters the body through the subtle central channel Sushumna up to the backside of the head, it is said that “it goes up the mysterious back path” (west, Paschimo, Maya).
When it goes up through Sushumna until it reaches the middle of the forehead, in the secret centre of force residing in the crown of the head, the “thousand petals lotus “, Sahasrara, then it is said to follow the mysterious path of the forehead.
It is clear that Paschimotanasana acts specifically on the circulation of the subtle energies on the “western”, posterior side, of the body, while Purvottanasana acts specifically on the “eastern”, frontal side.
WHO CAN PERFORM THE ASANA?
Anyone can perform this asana but people who have severe cases of haemorrhoids may end up triggering and even amplifying their congestion. However, if the haemorrhoids are in the intial or medium stages Purvottanasana is highly recommended.
Anyone suffering from thyroid problems should practice this asana without bending the head backwards.
PLACE IN THE DAILY PRACTICE
Purvottanasana is the pose complementary to the Clench Pose, Paschimotanasana. In the order of asanas Purvottanasana is performed right after Paschimotanasana.
HOW TO PERFORM THE ASANA
Sit on the floor, feet stretched in front of you, without allowing them to touch one another. Lean back until you can support your weight on your hands placed a few inches behind the line of the shoulders. Do not bend the arms. Point the fingers towards the front, or if this position is too difficult for the wrists, point them towards the side, but under no circumstances place your hands with fingers pointing backwards.
THE FIRST STAGE
Empty your lungs, retain the breath, and then gradually rise from the ground supporting your weight on your palms and heels.
THE FINAL POSE
Inhale and push your pelvis up as much as you can. Bend your head towards the back as much as you can, and look behind you. Place the toes on the ground. The sole should be on the ground on its whole length.
Do not bend the legs, and do not spread them. When you reach the position in which your pelvis is lifted at maximum, breathe deeply and consciously and keep this pose for as long as possible.
Try to perceive the mysterious communion and the resonance with the Macro Cosmos. Instinctively, this pose favours Mula Bandha, the contraction of the perineum. According to the practitioners physical possibilities, the pose will be kept for 10-15 seconds up to one minute.
Return to the sitting position on the floor and perform a quick and complete relaxation after performing this asana to allow the blood and pranic fluxes to circulate freely in your body.
Maintain a deep breathing pattern while performing this asana, otherwise it will lose a lot of its value and effectiveness. Certain advanced yogis practice the retention with the lungs filled with air. However, this is reserved for advanced practitioners only.
While performing this asana, focus on the breath and on the whole perineal area (Muladhara Chakra), which will be contracted in Mula Bandha. After performing the asana relax and focus the perineal area. During the relaxation breathe freely and calmly.
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