Adho Mukha Paschimottanasana

Definition - What does Adho Mukha Paschimottanasana mean?

Adho mukha paschimottanasana is a basic restorative forward bend. The name comes from several Sanskrit words:

  • Adho, meaning “down”;
  • Mukha, meaning “face”;
  • Paschima, meaning “back” or “west”;
  • Uttana, meaning “intense stretch” or “straight” (referring to the back body); and
  • Asana, meaning “pose” or “posture.”

This asana is performed while seated on the edge of a chair. The legs are stretched straight out and upper body folds forward as the hands reach for the feet.

Adho mukha paschimottansana is also known in English as downward-facing intense west stretch.

Yogapedia explains Adho Mukha Paschimottanasana

This asana is a less intense variation of paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), which is one of the 12 basic postures of Hatha yoga and is also part of the Ashtanga yoga primary series. The adho mukha variation may be performed with rolled-up blankets or pillows in the lap or on top of the legs to provide support.

Traditionally, as a forward bend, this variation of paschimottanasana is believed to open the manipura (navel) chakra, the body's energy and vitality center. Activating the manipura dispels fear and insecurity and is associated with self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of purpose. Adho mukha paschimottanasana also helps to calm the mind and nervous system, thereby relieving stress.

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