Achieve the benefits of a pose with a bolster!
The pose of the week is
Paschimottanasana /seated forward bend
Paschimottanasana can be an intense forward bend, with the goal of having the head completely resting on the legs. The full pose requires great extension of the hamstrings, a lot of length in the front body and a strong awareness to pull the dorsal spine inwards.
But with a bolster and the right support, anyone can achieve the benefits of this pose. Which are to still the mind, slow the breath, stretch the hamstrings, improve mobility in the hips and even aid in digestion and blood pressure.
Using a bolster makes this version of Paschimottanasana /seated forward bend a restorative pose. Placing the head on the bolster helps to calm the mind. Using a bolster assists the body to become comfortable in this pose, stay for longer, and reap more of those benefits.
For those with tight hamstrings, we suggest the second or third variation of this seated forward bend.
First variation is the classical pose with a bolster:
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, hips distance apart.
- Most beginners need to sit on a folded blanket in this pose, to lift the pelvis and create more extension in the spine.
- Place the bolster between the legs so that the forehead will rest on the edge of the bolster.
- With your hands pressing into on the floor on either side of the hips, lift the chest. Roll the outer arms back to help lift the chest more.
- Descend your inner groins down and press the backs of the legs into the floor.
- Raise the arms up, keeping the lift in the chest and the extension of the spine, come forward to catch the big toes with your fingers. Keep your elbows light and lifted.
- Place your forehead onto the bolster and turn the head to one side.
Second variation uses two bolsters and a strap:
- If you cannot reach your feet when you fold forward, stack two bolsters between your legs, and create more height for the head.
- Make a loop in two straps. Place the loop of each strap around each foot, and hold the straps instead of the feet.
Third variation uses a bolster on a chair:
- Place a chair on your mat with a bolster on the chair, for the forehead.
- Instead of catching the feet or using a strap, place the hands on either the front or back rung of the bottom of the chair.