Yoga India Foundation

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)– Benefits, Adjustment & Cautions

Paschimottanasana is also known as seated forward bend or fold. This posture is great to increase the flexibility of your hamstrings and calves. It also stretches your lower back and calms the mind. Paschimottanasana can be practiced by all levels of practitioners. Below, you will find some useful tips about the use of props to increase the benefit of the pose.

Before practicing Paschimottanasana, we recommend adding a little warm-up, called Pawanmuktasana in Hatha Yoga. Include simple rotations and movements of your joints and muscles to increase flexibility and remove stiffness. This helps you to get into the postures easier and deeper.

Read the Step By Step Instructions for Paschimottanasana:

  1. Sit on your mat in Dhandhasana
  2. Close your legs together and activate your knee caps
  3. Your toes should point towards the ceiling
  4. Straighten your spine
  5. Inhale deeply and bring your arms up
  6. Exhale and fold forward
  7. Bring your chest onto your thighs
  8. Catch your feet with your hands
  9. You can interlock your hands behind your feet or grab your ankles
  10. Maintain your legs straight
  11. Don’t bend your knees
  12. Try to rest your forehead on your shins/knees
  13. Take a few deep breaths here

You can make this posture a little more dynamic as well. As you inhale bring your upper body up and stretch your arms up towards the ceiling. As you exhale bend forward and rest in the final pose. Use your breath for this up and down movement and continue it for 10 to 15 breaths.

The Use of Props and Alignment in Paschimottanasana:

Using props such as belts, blocks, bolsters, and walls can increase the benefit of a posture. Experienced yoga teachers always use props to modify postures and make them suitable for everyone. In Paschimottanasana, you can either use a strap or block. If you are a beginner, place the strap around your foot. As you inhale and open your chest, activate your knee cap, pull it back and keep the leg straight. Now exhale and fold forward from your hips. Gently pull on your strap to get further down. Try to rest your nose on your shin.

For Experienced and more advanced yogis: Place the block onto the sole of your foot. Instead of interlocking your fingers behind your foot, try to grab the block or even interlock your fingers behind the block for the maximum stretch of your back and hamstrings.

Benefits of Paschimottanasana:

  • Improves flexibility in legs and back
  • Stretches the back
  • Tones the abdomen
  • Massages the internal organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Removes constipation


Please avoid this posture if you have any lower back injuries.

To be sure that you practice an asana correctly, we recommend participating in our Yoga Teacher Training Program.