In this hectic, fast paced life, many of us are guilty of becoming sedentary with little or no exercise. As a result, the body becomes stiff and unable to bend forward. Urban living encourages mental tension and physical rigidity, both of which are counteracted by forward bending.
The physical benefits of forward bends include creating length and space in the spine and counteracting compression. The forward bending asnanas move the spine into a position known as the primary curve, the shape it takes in the womb.
During a forward bending asana each of the vertebrae is separated, stimulating the nerves, improving circulation around the spine and nourishing the spinal cord. This has a positive impact on the abdominal organs generally and on the brain specifically. These group of asanas really help in strengthening the back muscles, stretching the leg muscles and massaging the abdominal organs.
When doing forward bends, it’s very important to lace your practice with a few backbends as complimentary postures. A balance of the two is key to a good practice.
At the psychological level forward bends are associated with bowing and humility. An inability to bend forward may indicate a stiff, stubborn or proud personality. The inward nature of this group of asanas can promote introspection. They release rigidity of both the mind and body and promote a deep relaxation, as the heart goes below the spine and blood flows to the head, creating a sense of calm.
Forward bends are practiced in the seated and standing positions. People with any kid of back condition and those suffering from backache need to consult a doctor before practicing these asanas.
So, try bending forward correctly and experience the calming and rejuvenating effects of this simple practice! ‘I bend and so do not break’, is a wonderful way to summarize this topic!
Will be back next week with some information on the backward bending postures.
Neelanjana Bharadwaj – Yoga Expert