How to do Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) or (Back Stretching Pose)

paschimottanasanaPaschimottanasana is intense forward bending asana, and require flexibility. It is a horizontal version of uttanasana. Due to tightness in the legs and back, forward bending is not easy. Beginners would not be able to bend far forward. However, only with practice you can reach through the feet. According to Shiv Samhita, combined with padmasana, siddhasana and vajrasana, this asana is an accomplished asana.

Let’s see how to do paschimottanasana step by step.

Steps to do Paschimottanasana

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you keeping the spine erect. Press your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips, and press your heels to create stability and balance in sitting. This is the starting position. Relax the whole body.

  2. Inhale, raise both arms above your head and stretch up, exhale, bend forward from the hip joints, and not from the waist. Keep the spine erect, and focus on moving forwards towards the toes, not towards the knees. Keep the elbows straight and not bent. First, your lower belly should touch the thighs, then upper belly, and then ribs.

  3. Place your hands on your legs, wherever possible. If possible try to hold the feet with your hands, however, initially it would not be possible so loop a strap around the soles, and hold the strap to take support in bending. Don’t pull yourself into the forward bending forcefully.

  4. This is one round.

Breathing Sequence

  1. Inhale in the starting position.
  2. With each inhalation, lift front torso slightly.
  3. With each exhalation bend forward little more.
  4. Inhale in the static position.
  5. Breathe slowly and deeply in the final position or retain the breath out if holding for a short duration.
  6. Keep your focus on the abdomen, relaxation of the back muscles or the slow breathing process.


Beginners should perform up to 5 rounds, staying the in the final position for only a short length of time. Experts may maintain the final position for up to 5 minutes.


Most common mistake in this asana is to bend from the waist, you should use your hip joint to bend.

Initially, it is advisable to sit up on a folded blanket to keep the body little inclined for better reach toward feet. Strap will be useful in the beginning.

Once can also take the help of a partner to help you to release your lower back. Your partner can gently press his hands against your lower back to encourage the back spine and tailbone to bend forward.


  1. Stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings and increases flexibility in the hip joints.
  2. It gives an internal massage to the liver, pancreas, spleen, adrenal glands and kidney. It removes the excess weight in this area. Improves digestion.
  3. It stimulates nerves and spine muscles.
  4. Helpful with menopause, sluggish liver, diabetes, colitis, bronchitis and menstrual discomfort.

Person with asthma, diarrhea, slipped disc, sciatica or back injury should not try this pose.

Gautam Trehan

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