Definition - What does Paschima mean?

Paschima is a Sanskrit word that means “west” or "being behind." In yoga, the term is commonly used to refer to the back or back part of the body. Traditionally, the yogi faces east, or toward the sunrise, during yoga practice and meditation, meaning the back of the body faces west. Facing east represents the light, or clarity (of mind and vision).

Sometimes paschima is referred to as the back nadi (energy channel), or paschima marga (posterior pathway).

Yogapedia explains Paschima

Paschima is the opposite of purva, which means “east” in Sanskrit. Paschima is also the root word for a number of yoga postures, including:

  • Paschimottanasana, the seated forward fold, which gives an intense stretch of the back
  • Paschima namaskarasana, which means reverse namaste pose or namaste on the back body pose, often practiced in a sitting position
  • Tadasana paschima namaskar (reverse prayer pose) is the standing variation of the same pose
  • Tadasana paschima baddha hastasana (mountain pose with arms bound), a standing pose in which the arms wrap around the back and each hand grasps the opposite elbow

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