You have finally arrived after that not-so-first-class airline experience. The cat-cow got you through the flight (Read this post here). You got to your destination, the sun is shining, and all you want to do is lie down, relax, and start your well-deserved vacay.
Five minutes later you have changed into your new bikini, your book/kindle in one hand, plush towel in the other, and you head to the sun-lounger. After meticulously setting yourself up, you lie down, stretch out, and open your book.
Five minutes later you have re-read the same page 3 times, run through the imaginary list of things you “should” be doing on holiday, and no relaxing has started. It is so hard to disconnect, switch off, relax in a world where we are always switched on. SO, here is an exercise for you to do to help you jump start your holiday. You don’t even need to leave your sun-lounger!
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This pose can be performed on a sun-lounger, beach, grass park, or in your hotel room!
Sit with your buttocks supported with a folded towel and your legs straight in front of you. Press down actively through your heels. This should be comfortable, so if you need more cushioning, place an extra towel under your buttocks. Are your hamstrings screaming already? Place a rolled up towel underneath your knees so that they remain slightly bent.
From this position, turn your top thighs in slightly and press them downward. Press through your palms or fingertips beside your hips in a downward direction and lift your chest towards that blue sky.
From this position, inhale, elongating the torso and lean forward from your hip joints and not your waist. The sensation should feel as though you are being lengthened from your head and torso upwards and forwards, and lengthened backwards and downwards from your tailbone. Exhale.
If you can, take the sides of your feet with your hands. If you cannot, hold your shins at the point that you have arrived, or even better if you have a yoga strap looped around the soles of your feet and use it as traction. (alternatively scarf, or belt from your hotel bathrobe). It is important at whatever point you have arrived to keep your elbows straight and not bent.
When you feel you can go further forward, do not forcefully pull yourself with your hands or a strap. Always remember to inhale, lengthen from your torso first; exhale, ease into the forward bend.
Continue this wave of inhalation and exhalation, deepening the pose if you feel comfortable for 1-3 minutes. If at any time the pose becomes uncomfortable, you can come out of it sooner. To come up, first lift your torso away from the thighs, straightening your arms beside the hips, and rolling up slowly.
Pashimottanasana has many known benefits, some of which include calming the nervous system, calm the mind (especially when feeling distracted), relieve pain and tightness from the belly region, and even promote some fat burning in the belly region.
Please enjoy this simple pose and kick-start your holidays!
Written by Lucy Bidgood-Lund