Paschimottanasana comes from the Sanskrit words paschima meaning “west” or “back” or “back of body”, uttana meaning “intense stretch” or “straight” or “extended”, and asana meaning “posture” or “sea”.
Forward bends stretch the muscles of the lower spine, pelvis, and legs, whilst stretching and stimulating the upper back, kidneys, and adrenal glands and massaging the abdominal organs which can lead to profound calming effects. Similar to the standing forward fold, when coming into the seated version of this pose, aim for a long back rather than rounding the spine. To do so, draw in your lower belly and draw your chest towards your knees, your forehead towards your shins or even your ankles. They don’t have to touch, rather intention is key. There are lots of modifications for this pose – you can bend your knees, bring hands to your shins, hold your big toes, the sides of your feet, or clasp your hands over the ends of your feet. Keep your neck long and allow your body time to soften into the pose.