Ibiza yoga: How to do Paschimottanasana

Ibiza yoga instructor Susie Howell of Ibiza Retreats continues her series of ‘how-to’ yoga posture explanations.

POSE: Paschimottanasana

MEANING: Literally translated – it means ‘seated forward bend’. Not very snappy – but very effective!

BENEFITS: This posture is the natural progression from Dandasana, which we learnt last week.

  • It further stretches the spine, shoulders, hips and hamstrings
  • It stimulates the internal organs – giving them a little stretch and a mini massage
  • This is a calming posture. The notion of closing your eyes, connecting with the breath and the body, can be very relaxing… as well as challenging!


  • Start in Dandasana. Inhale and lengthen the spine and raise your arms up above your head.
  • As you exhale, begin to reach forward,  hinging from the hips and aiming to keep your spine as straight as you can. Look up to help you achieve this – your head usually directs the rest of the body!
  • Press the backs of your legs to the floor. Try not to round the back at all but with each inhalation, find a little more space in the spine and exhale to edge forward.
  • Think about coming up and over, rather than down. Aim for stomach to thighs – ok, it might not quite be there – but it’s the thought that counts!
  • Take hold of the ankles, shins or soles of the feet and stay here. Keep the arms straight and the shoulders relaxed.
  • Stay here – deepening for as long as you can… increase the time with practice! This posture is all about quality not quantity… it doesn’t matter how far you come forward, but how good the stretch is!
  • Inhale up to release.

HELPFUL HINT: You don’t need to buy a proper yoga strap, just be creative. You can use a dressing gown cord or an old belt. You may want to start with your legs slightly bent if you back or hips feel really tight – just to get the feeling of coming forward. You can then work on straightening the legs another time. Or alternate – work your legs in one session and your back in the next!

Next pose: Janu Sirasana
Previous pose: Dandasana