Etymology and origins
The name comes from the Sanskrit words paschima (पश्चिम, paścima) meaning "west" or "the back of the body"; uttana (उत्तान, uttāna) meaning "intense stretch" or "straight" or "extended"; and asana (आसन, āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat".
The pose is described in the 15th-century Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 1, verses 30-31.
This asana is practiced in four stages:
- The yogi stretches their legs straight and swings the upper part of their body back and forth. With each swing, the yogi tries to reach further with their hands, touching their knees, calves, ankles, and finally their toes.
- The yogi bends forward to touch their knees with their hands.
- The yogi reaches further to touch their toes with their hands.
- The yogi tries to place their elbows at the side of their knees, and touch their knees with either their nose or their forehead.
People who have difficulty bending their backs should exercise caution when performing this asana.
Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana is a balancing form of the pose, legs and hands pointing upwards.
- Uttanasana, a standing forward bend
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