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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2012:10:05 11:52:59

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2012:10:05 11:51:30

Hilary Steinberg of Jaya Yoga demonstrates Paschimottanasana in its traditional form (top photo) and with the variation by using a strap (bottom photo).

The changing of the seasons brings cooler weather, colds and even mild depression.

Paschimottanasana, translated as "intense stretch of the west," or more commonly referred to as "seated forward bend" can calm the brain and help relieve stress and mild depression. Paschimottanasana is also touted for soothing headaches, reducing anxiety and lessening fatigue.

Begin on the floor seated on a folded blanket, legs extended long in front of you. Flex the feet and shift side to side to remove the flesh from your sitz bones. Turn your upper thighs in towards each other and press them down into the floor. Press the backs of your knees into the floor as well.

Inhaling, extend your arms toward the sky and lengthen your spine upwards. Exhaling, hinge forward from your hips, leading with your heart as you reach your hands toward your feet. If possible, grab your big toes with your first and second finger, resting your thumbs on the top of the big toes. If this isn't possible, let your hands fall comfortably on top of the shins, thigh, or alongside the legs on the floor, wherever they can comfortably rest. Another option is to loop a strap around the feet, and hold the strap firmly. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent. With each inhale lengthen the spine and with each exhale deepen the forward bend.

Never force yourself into a pose. If someone has tightness in the hamstrings (backs of the legs), their forward bend may not go very far forward. If you have a back injury, only perform this posture under a teacher or doctor's supervision. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes.

Other benefits of Paschimottanasana include stretching the spine, shoulders and hamstrings; stimulating the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus and improving digestion.

Hilary Steinberg is the owner of Jaya Yoga, 320 S. State St., Clarks Summit. Call 319-1726 or visit for more information.