How to practice: Paścimattānāsana A, B, C, D (Western/back intense stretch Pose)

by Delight Yoga

Paścimattānāsana, or Western/back intense stretch Pose, is the sixth posture in the Primary Series of the Astanga Vinyasa yoga system. Literally translated as “intense stretch of the west,”  Paschimottanasana can help a distracted mind unwind. 

The Primary Series is said to be the most demanding because it is the first series you learn as a beginner - and every beginning is hard.  It is called Yoga Chikitsa, meaning Yoga Therapy. It is a series for cleansing and healing the body. 

The Primary Series sets the foundation for all of the following series. If you look superficially, it may seem as if the Primary Series is the easiest of the six series in the Astanga Vinyasa System, but in fact, it is the most demanding. It is here that you start your practice, where you get used to the breath and Vinyasas, and to your daily yoga practice. 
 

Paścimattānāsana A, B, C, D Instructions
 

1. ekam
Inhale, raise arms overhead, palms together
Dhristi: to the middle of the thumb (añguṣṭhamadhye)

2. dve
Exhale, fold forward, hands to ground
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

3. trīṇi
Inhale, lift head, lengthen the spine
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

4. catvāri
Exhale, hands down, float back, elbows close to chest (Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana)
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

5. pañca
Inhale, roll on tops of feet, open the chest, straighten arms
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

6. ṣaṭ
Exhale, roll over the toes, push back, lift hips, straight arms. 
Dhristi: to the navel (nābicakre)

7. sapta
Inhale, jump through to sitting, straight legs, hands to the ground beside the body, back straight

- 5 breaths, Daṇḍāsana
  Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

8. aṣṭau
Inhale, grab big toes, back straight
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

9. nava
Exhale, bend elbows to the side, top of the head goes in the direction of the big toes, head touching leg

- 5 breaths, Paścimattānāsana (A, B, C or D)
Dhristi: to the tip of the foot (pādayoragre)

10. daśa
Inhale, stretch arms, head up
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

- Exhale, stay in this position

11. ekādaśa
Inhale, put hands onto the floor, cross legs and lift up balancing on the arms
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

12. dvādaśa
Exhale, jump back to Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

13. trayodaśa
Inhale, roll on tops of feet, open the chest, straighten arms
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

14. caturdaśa
Exhale, roll over the toes, push back, lift hips, straight arms.
Dhristi: to the navel (nābicakre)

15. pañcadaśa
Inhale, jump feet between hands, lengthen the spine, lift your head up
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

16. ṣoḍaśa
Exhale, head to knees
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

- Inhale, stand all the way up, arms on sides, Samasthitiḥ, exhale
  Dhristi : to the nose (nāsāgre)
 

Paścimattānāsana A, B, C, D Benefits
 

- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression

- Stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings

- Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus

- Improves digestion

- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort

- Soothes headaches and anxiety, and reduces fatigue

- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis

- Traditional texts say that Paschimottanasana increases appetite, reduces obesity, and cures diseases