Seated Forward Bend

Definition - What does Seated Forward Bend mean?

Seated forward bend is an intense stretch for the whole back of the body, from the heels to the crown of the head. The legs are outstretched straight in front of the upper body and the chest is folded forwards, with the intention that it will eventually rest on the legs.The hands reach for the feet, either clasping them at the toes, the sides, or with one hand holding the opposite wrist around the soles of the feet. This final variation is performed as part of the Ashtanga primary series.

Seated forward bend is a relatively advanced posture and to perform it fully requires flexibility in the hamstrings and the back of the body.

The Sanskrit name for seated forward bend is paschimottanasana.

Yogapedia explains Seated Forward Bend

Seated forward bend has a wide range of physical benefits. As well as stretching the hamstrings, the back and the shoulders, it stimulates digestion and can relieve menstrual cramps or symptoms of menopause. It is also considered therapeutic for conditions such as high blood pressure and insomnia.

It is important to work with the breath to go deeper into the seated forward bend. On every inhalation the spine should be lengthened further, and every exhalation should allow for deeper release into the stretch.

Seated forward bend can be modified for those with a tighter lower back or hamstrings by using a belt to wrap around the feet or placing a cushion underneath the knees. Most practitioners also benefit from sitting on a cushion in this pose to lift the sit bones.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter