The seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana) is one of the basic asanas, or postures, and it offers yoga practitioners of every level an easy, relaxing and rewarding pose.
Perhaps the most important secret to performing the forward bend properly is to try to allow your body to embrace the position naturally and in a relaxed manner, rather than forcing it to do so.
Many yoga beginners make the mistake of believing that they must force the body to assume the position shown in the book. In reality, the stiff person or the overweight one can do the forward bend quite effectively just by easing their way as far into the position as possible without straining.
Even when done "not so well" by the beginner, the forward bend does wonders for the entire back area, while also helping provide the massage to inner organs, as so many yoga poses do, for better function and blood circulation.
Start the forward by taking a deep breath, and then raising both arms upwards next to your head.
Keep your back as straight as possible without strain, and slowly lean forward and try to catch your feet. At first, you will probably have some difficulty doing this perfectly.
Don't despair, the bending will do wonders for you, and regular practice will improve your flexibility.
The ideal outcome of the pose is when you are able to hold your toes in your hands for a while. Holding the pose for about half a minute is perfect. However, always try to keep both your back and your legs straight. This requires a lot of flexibility and you may find it impossible to reach your toes. In this case you should try to grab your ankles and thus make the pose easier. While coming out of the pose try to inhale and then stretch your body upwards in the initial position.
The flexibility required to perform this pose is high and it may take weeks or months for a yogi to be able to reach his or her toes and hold the pose in the optimum position. Do not get discouraged if you cannot achieve the perfect pose from the first few attempts and try to gradually work your way to achieving the maximum effects of the forward bend.