When your legs are too long and your arms too short

Pashimottanasana: a difficult name for a pose that looks rather easy... at first glance that is. Until you start practicing it yourself.

Let me translate that for you: sitting forward bent... Yes the pose where I say: "when your legs are too long and your arms are too short, you can put your hands on the lower legs".

This pose tends to create some frustration. "I cannot reach my toes". And then a see quiet often that students are looking around to the other students and start comparing whether they can reach their toes or not. And that is where the frustration begins and this is dangerous to go over your limits and stretch too far (not) to reach the toes.

En tijdens het beoefenen van de houding in de lessen zei ik tot voor kort "Met de nodige oefening en geduld ga je dat zeker kunnen"...  

While practicing and teaching this pose during my classes I used to say "With the necessary practice and patience you will be able to reach your toes"...

Well, I have to take that back. While thoroughly investigating the forward bend I had to come to the conclusion that some people will never be able to practice this pose reaching their toes. And this for the simple reason that the way their hips are built makes this impossible.


It is possible that the lower part of your hips is a bit thicker than the average, which creates pressure on the upper part of the bone in your upper leg. So unless you saw of a part of your hip - I would strongly advice against that ;-) - it is physically impossible for you to practice the full forward bend sitting and reach your toes with your hands.



It is possible that you cannot reach your toes because your hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your upper leg) and your lower back are stiff and need some extra practice.

How can you find out whether your hamstrings are stiff or whether your hips stop you from doing the forward bend?

That is very simple: if you cannot bend further and you have the feeling that your hips are locked (which is actually the case) and you do not feel a lot of stretching in your hamstrings, then you have the kind of hips that prohibit you from reaching your feet with your hands.

When you do feel stretching in your hamstrings and lower back ànd you have the feeling that you might be able to go deeper into the pose as your muscles relax, you do not have the feeling that your hips are locked then there is one thing to do: practice and keep practicing so you will be able to reach your toes.

Practicing the forward bend is always good even if your hips do not allow you to do the full pose and reach your feet. The pose is a good stretch for you back, prevents back problems and is an excellent compensating pose for the back bends. Is also helps to stimulate the workings of the organs.

Yoga is dan ook geen competitie, je doet yoga op je eigen niveau en je houdt rekening met je grenzen.

Yoga is not a competition, you practice yoga at your level and you respect the limits of your body.


Hari Om, thank you for the Yoga :-)

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