In Sanskrit, Paṣcima means “west” and Tāna means “to stretch,” thus, paścimatānāsana means “west stretching pose.” In yoga, we face the east while practicing, and the west refers to the back side of the body. In Paṣcimatānāsana, you should aim to lengthen the whole back of the body from the heels to the back of the head. This includes the backs of the legs, hips, full length of the back and the neck. Squeezing the anus and drawing in the lower abdominals strongly as you fold forward helps to balance the opening between all the areas mentioned above, and is essential for manifesting the many benefits this pose offers. Paścimatānāsana is considered an extremely important and beneficial āsana that increases the digestive fire and strengthens the digestive organs as well as causes the vital energy to move upward through the spine. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika writes that Paścimatānāsana leads to “freedom from sickness for all.”