Seated forward bend is a seated posture practiced often in yoga-asana classes. Like many seated poses, it provides a grounding and nurturing energy. The forward bend component eases tension in your lower back and calms your mind.
👉 Before I go further, if you want to review my five key points about asanas, click here.
Yoga postures, also called poses and asanas, are the physical positions you practice. Asanas create flexibility, build strength, and develop stamina.
Seated Forward Bend
Forward Bend, Seated
Seated forward fold, caterpillar (yin), intense dorsal stretch, and the Sanskrit paschimottanasana.
I’ve provided some benefits, contraindications, variations, chakra connections, and sequencing suggestions. Other yoga teachers and sites may list additional or varying information.
👉 Remember Key Point #1, there is no one singular way.
Steps to do Seated Forward Bend
- Find a comfortable seated position and extend your legs in staff pose.
- Lengthen your spine and hinge forward through your hips.
- Draw the crown of your head toward your toes.
- Deepen the stretch by slowly moving your torso forward.
Benefits of Paschimottanasana
Benefits = By practicing this posture, the conditions listed can be improved.
- Stretches hamstrings, low back, and shoulders
- Lengthens your spine
- Calms your mind
- Massages internal organs
- Promotes digestion
- Good for first, second, and third chakra balancing
Contraindications of Seated Forward Bend
Contraindications = A condition that the posture could make worse.
- Second or third trimester pregnancy
- Hamstring and shoulder issues
- Asthma or difficulty breathing
- Avoid forward bends with back issues, herniated disks
Variations or Adaptations
By altering the form of a yoga posture, you can meet the requirements and strength of each person. Yoga encourages you to practice within your capacity whether that means you need to increase or reduce the intensity.
Asana variations are not just for people with specific physical problems. They can help all yoga practitioners remain open to discovery. –TKV Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga.
- Stay in staff position
- Add a side stretch, twist, or cow/cat
- Sit on a folded blanket to elevate your hips
- Roll a towel or blanket and place under your knees
Seated forward bend has root, sacral, and solar plexus chakra connections. The root chakra is associated with the base of the your spine, legs, and feet. While your sacral chakra is connected with your pelvis, bladder, lower vertebrae, and hip area. Your solar plexus chakra aligns with your intestines, stomach, and diaphragm.
In paschimottanasana, you’re sitting on the ground (root), with legs activated (root), folding forward (sacral), stretching low back (sacral) and massaging internal organs (solar plexus).
Postures you could do BEFORE seated forward bend:
- Easy sitting
- Bound angle
- Head to knee
Postures you could do AFTER seated forward bend:
- Wide angle forward bend
- Seated twists
- Reverse plank
Final Thoughts on Seated Forward Bend
Paschimottanasana can be practiced several times throughout the day to ease tension in your lower back and stretch your hamstrings which stay shortened while you sit.
Avoid forcing your chest to your knees, and locking your knees straight.
Practice it at night to relieve tension and calm down from your day. As you relax into the pose, it prepares your mind and body for rest.