Ardha Paschimottanasana - Half Forward Fold
Paschimottanasana (Sanskrit: पश्चिमोत्तानासन; IAST: paścimottānāsana), Half seated forward bend, or Half intense dorsal stretch, Half seated forward bend, Half posterior stretching pose. Paschima (पश्चिम, paścima) meand "west" or "back" or "back of body", and uttana (उत्तान, uttāna) means, among others, stretched out, spreading out over the surface, concave, causing to arise, causing to originate, and recovery (medicine).
The Half Forward Fold allows the introduction to the seated forward bend. It is easier and also allows a work on energy equilibration.
The left heel comes to the perineum. The plantar surface of the foot rests on the right leg. The right leg is stretched forward and not side away. This position of the feet remains the same throughout the phases:
The eyes are closed, in Maddya Drishti (gaze fixed on the mid eye brow space). The tongue is in Khechari Mudra (turned upwards). Mula Bandha (root lock) is active. Upon exhalation, slightly lean forward and upon the inhalation that follows, raise the arms, elbows bent, and straighten the back as much as possible.
During the exhalation, lean forward to grasp the foot of the stretched leg, insuring that the hips first tilt, followed by the rest of the back. This is important because the pelvic hinge and lumbar area is first involved in the work. Insure that this work is done appropriately, as it may requires an appropriate warm up before.
In this phase, one can work on the breathing technique Visamavritti in two ways:
1. Visamavritti with full-lung retention
- Initial rhythm of 3/12/6/0 or 4/16/8/0.
- During the inhalation, see the air coming from the foot, going through the extended leg and reaching to root
- During the full-lung retention, intensify mulhadara contraction, apply Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock), and Uddiyana Bandha (stomach lock). Feel the energy pulled from the root center to irradiate the body.
- During the exhalation, see the air leaving the root, going along the spine and coming through the arms to the foot. Exhale slowly and powerfully while insuring to expel the residual air. Relax what can be.
- Feel the energy that circulates along the stretched leg.
- The count can progressively be increased to 5/20/10/0.
The pose should be kept for 4 minutes at least.
2. Visamavritti with empty-lung retention
- Initial rhythm of 3/0/12/6, 4/0/16/8 or easier (3/0/6/6 or 4/0/8/8)
- During the inhalation, see the air leave from the root, go along the spine, through the arms to the foot. Practice ujjayin.
- During the exhalation, see the air go in the stretched leg to the root. Feel the energy flowing powerfully. Practice ujjayin. Relax progressively what can be.
- During empty-lung retention, intensify mula bandha (root lock), apply jalandhara bandha (throat lock) and uddiyana bandha (full stomach lock). Feel the energy being absorbed in the center of the root through a condensation-like effect. Feel the energy circulate along the stretched leg.
- Progressively increase the rhythm to 5/0/10/10.
Practice the pose for at lest 4 minutes.
To exit the pose, the movements are inversed. Go up while inhaling fully and raising the arms. Stretch the back. Hold during full-lung retention, feel the back stretch. During the following exhalation, put the hands backward to come back to the original pose.
Remain focused on the point between the eyebrows. Let the breathing stabilize and feel the energy flowing.
Finally, inverse the position.
End the posture in savasana to integrate the experience.