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THE FORWARD BEND (PASCHIMOTHANASANA)

The Forward Bend or the Paschimothanasana looks deceptively simple. But it is in fact a very important and demanding pose. The Sanskrit word "paschima" means "the West", referring to the back of the body, which is literally stretched from the heels to the top of the spine. Practicing this asana invigorates the internal organs, reduce fat, and stimulates the entire nervous system. Before holding the pose, loosen up the body by inhaling and coming back out of the position, then next exhaling and going into it again, three times. Don't try to bring your head to your knees as this will curve the spine. Instead, aim to bring the torso as far as possible, while keeping the knees and spine straight.

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1. From a lying position, with your arms straight out behind you, inhale and come up to a sitting position. Point your feet at the ceiling and pull the flesh of your buttocks out from underneath you, so that you are sitting directly on the pelvic bone. Stretch your arms above your head, lengthening the spine. 2. From a lying position, with your arms straight out behind you, inhale and come up to a sitting position. Point your feet at the ceiling and pull the flesh of your buttocks out from underneath you, so that you are sitting directly on the pelvic bone. Stretch your arms above your head, lengthening the spine.
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3. Continue right down and hold on to whichever part of your legs or feet you can comfortably reach without bending the knees. With practice, you can wrap your index fingers around your big toes and bring your elbows down to to the floor, or stretch your arms out over your feet, as shown right.  
In the position, breathe deeply, feeling yourself and advancing forward a little more every time you exhale. Hold for three or four deep breaths at first, gradually increasing the number as you become relaxed in the pose. When you release the position, reach forward as you come up.
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