in Sanskrit, Paschima refers to back or west, and Uttana means extension or bend. Thus, the term “Paschimottanasana” is translated as “the posture of posterior extension”. According to the structure of the Yogic “anatomy”, other parts of the physical body are also associated with cardinal points. Thus, man’s face corresponds to the east, feet – to the south, and head – to the north.
The name of this posture has an esoteric meaning as well: in the secret language of Yogis, the west stands for the central nadi in the subtle anatomy of the human being (corresponding to the spine in the physical structure) that is Sushumna Nadi. Therefore, in some secret texts this posture is referred to as Paschima Marga or “The Western Path”.
Considering its subtle effects that generate accelerated spiritual transformations (owing to the predominant flow of the subtle energy (Pranic energy) through the middle posterior nadi (Sushumna Nadi)) this posture is also known as “The Rising on the Western Path”.
Paschimottanasana strengthens the thighs and tendons. It eliminates arthritic pain, sciatica, sciatic nerve neuralgia, pains in the back, feet, knees and thighs. It leads to the healing of lumbago crisis, ads strengths and resistance to the spine.
For persons with big hips and buttocks this asana is excellent as it harmonizes the physical structure and it is extremely efficient in fighting obesity. This asana also has beneficial effects on the waist, making it thinner, and eliminates the unaesthetic deposits of fat from the abdomen and hips.
It has beneficial effects on all abdominal organs. Liver idleness, dyspepsia (difficult digestion), belch and gastritis are gradually cured.
This posture is recommended for diabetes and hemorrhoids. Constipation is presently cured.
Paschimottanasana has beneficial effects on male prostate and female uterus and eggs. This asana favors a better blood circulation in the entire body and especially in the pelvic area, owing to the extension of this particular region. The sexual glands may easily absorb the necessary quantity of blood, generating as a result an increase in virility. Impotence and sexual weakness are consequently rapidly eliminated.
In addition, this asana eliminates numerous disorders of the bladder, kidneys, intestine and stomach. It induces a healthy and balanced appetite.
Through its practice the lymphatic circulation is normalized, which makes the organism immune to infections. Dermatological diseases are cured. Unpleasant body odors are gradually disappearing through the perseverant practice of this asana. The face becomes radiant and the eyes gain a specific magnetism/a mesmerizing effect.
The practice of this asana, owing to the decongestion of the solar plexus, helps in the diffusion of anxious states. The mind becomes stable and calm, the breath calms down; therefore this asana is indicated to easily irritable beings.
While performing this asana the subtle energies Prana and Apana are unified and directed into the central nadi, Sushumna.
The secret Yogic texts note that the practitioner of this asana must not fear old age. The renowned Yogi Brahmachari even asserted that this asana makes it possible (for the one who practices it correctly and daily) to live up to 300 years and even more. Its effects are directly proportional with the amount of time of practice.
This is the description of Gorakshanatha in Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “Paschimottanasana, first among asanas, directs the flow of Prana Vayu along Sushumna Nadi. This asana stimulates gastric secretion and removes fat from the abdominal area, leaving it supple. It also confers equality and equilibrium to the nerves.”
In some Yogic treatises, owing to its exceptional qualities and numerous beneficial effects, this asana was named Ugrasana (the excellent posture).