A lot of people have bad posture or worng breathing pattern like breathing in chest only. This often causes the spine to become compressed. Regular practice of the Forward Bend helps to keep the spine elastic, the joints mobile, the internal organs toned and the nervous system invigorated.
1. Sit up, keeping the legs together and stretched out, with the heels pushing away. Inhale and reach with both arms towards the ceiling, arms parallel to the ears. Stretch the spine upwards as much as possible. 2. Keep on reaching, exhale and bend forward and reach for the toes.
3. Keep the back and legs as straight as possible. If you are unable to reach the toes, hold the ankles, the shins or even the knees.
4. Bring the chest as close to the knees as possible. Keep the knees straight with the feet together. Do not let the feet and legs to rotate outward. Relax your shoulders and upper back. Breathe deeply.
5. Beginners may hold the position for 10-30 seconds, breathing deeply. With each exhalation, try to come forward a little more. Repeat 2-3 times.
6. Advanced students may stay in the position for longer periods rather than coming up and down. Gradually increase the time the position is held, the optimum being approximately 5 minutes. Breathe deeply while the position is being held. Try to keep the thigh and calf muscles relaxed. Do not bounce the upper body and do not force the body downwards as it can lead to injury in back.
7. Inhale and stretch the body forward and upwards until the arms and fingers are pointing towards the ceiling. Relax the arms.
• Students try to bring their head down to the knees rather than their chest. This causes the back to be rounded.
• Students hold their heels rather than their toes, pushing the leg back into the hip socket.
• Feet are not kept together, or are allowed to rotate outward. This causes misalignment of the hips.
• If the knees are allowed to bend, the calf and thigh muscles do not receive the proper stretch.
• Students 'try too hard' to stretch further. Encourage them to relax into the position rather than trying to force themselves into it.
"This most excellent of asanas, Paschimothanasana, makes the breath flow through the Sushumna, rouses the gastric fire, makes the loins lean and removes all diseases."
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 1, vs. 30
• Paschimothanasana gives a powerful massage and stimulates all of the abdominal viscera, especially the liver and spleen. It tones all the digestive organs and improves digestion. Intestines are regulated, peristalsis increased and constipation combated.
• It helps to regulate pancreatic functions, which control carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels, making it a valuable asana for diabetes patients and people with hypoglycemia.
• The entire nervous system is invigorated.
• Joints are mobilized, the spine becomes elastic and a youthful body is maintained.
• Regular practice helps to relieve compression of the spine and sciatica.
• It strengthens and stretches the hamstrings, lumbar and sacral regions.
• The mind is calmed.