This simple and effective asana for your practice is sometimes called in India Katikasana or the “Pelvic Asana”. The Sanskrit etymology of the term Purvottanasana reveals its relationship with Paschimotanasana, another famous and effective asana.
In fact, the Sanskrit term Purvottanasana comes from the juxtaposition of three Sanskrit words: purva=sunrise; uttana=maximum stretch; and asana=corporal position.
We also need to say that paschimo=sunset + uttana=maximum stretch + asana=corporal position give us Paschimotanasana – The Asana of the Clench.
Consequently, in the Sanskrit translation we find that the mysterious connection between the two is obvious, yet their translation tells us nothing further about this relationship.
For an un-initiated person, the etymology of the word is impossible to decipher. Purvottanasana, the posture that stretches us towards the east has no particular sense. It would be useful to know that the yogis did not chose such names by accident, but they used them precisely to protect the secret from prying and immoral people.
In the millenary yogic practice, the face of the body is usually referred to as east, and the back of the body is usually referred to as west.
Do not seek a literal connection to the sunrise or the sunset, because it actually refers to the process of resonance with the prana-ic subtle energies.
When the subtle flow of energy enters the body through the subtle central channel Sushumna up to the backside of the head, it is said that “it goes up the mysterious back path” (west, Paschimo, Maya).
When it goes up through Sushumna until it reaches the middle of the forehead, in the secret centre of force residing in the crown of the head, the “thousand petals lotus”, Sahasrara, then it is said to follow the mysterious path of the forehead.
Thus we understand now clearly that Paschimotanasana acts specifically in the first case, on the circulation of the subtle energies on the “western”, posterior side, of the body, while Purvottanasana acts specifically on the “eastern”, frontal side.
Sit on the floor, feet stretched in front of you, without allowing them to touch one another. Lean back until you can support your weight on your hands placed a few inches behind the line of the shoulders. Do not bend the arms. Place the fingers oriented towards the front, or if this position is too difficult for the wrists, orient them towards the exterior, but under no circumstances place your hands with palms oriented backwards.
THE FIRST STAGE
Empty your lungs, retain the breath, and then gradually rise from the ground supporting your weight on your palms and heels.
THE FINAL POSE
Inhale and push your pelvis up as much as you can. Bend your head towards the back as much as you can, and look behind you. Place the toes on the ground. The sole will then tend to be on the ground on its whole length.
Do not flex the legs, and do not spread them. When you reach the position in which your pelvis is lifted at maximum, breathe deeply and consciously and keep this pose for as long as possible.
Try to perceive the mysterious communion and the resonance with the macrocosm. Instinctively, this pose favours Mula Bandha, the contraction of the perineum. According to the practitioners physical possibilities, the pose will be kept for 10-15 seconds up to one minute.
Come back on the ground. Perform a quick and complete relaxation after performing this asana in order to allow the blood and prana-ic fluxes to circulate freely in your body.
On the whole interval while you perform this asana, we will focus on the breath and on the whole perineal area (Muladhara Chakra), which will be contracted in Mula Bandha. After you performed the asana relax especially the perineal area and focus in this area. During this interval of relaxation breathe freely and calmly.
THE PLACE IN THE DAILY PRACTICE
Purvottanasana is the pose complementary to the Clench Pose. In the classical series of the order of the asanas Purvottanasana is performed right after Paschimotanasana.
We insist that the indications presented above regarding the breathing pattern because otherwise the asana loses a lot of its value and effectiveness. Certain advanced yogis practice the retention with the lungs filled with air. However, this is reserved to the advanced practitioners only. For greater security, continue to breathe deeply during this asana.