Forward bends are a wonderful way to relax on hot summer days. They tend to lead us to deep inner concentration, letting go and yielding, which are all essential qualities in acquiring a peaceful mind. Excellent for fiery pittas on these steaming days!
Often times though, especially in the beginning, practicing them might lead to straining of back muscles and lower back pain. Here are some tips how to avoid that and find more space for our pelvis area and lenght for the spine. And to find where the hinge really is situated in our body!
Paschimottanasana – A Seated Forward Bend with a Twist:
Sit comfortably on the ground, the two legs straight forward. Close your eyes and take your chin towards the chest for a long, relaxed neck. Feel the sitting bones touching the ground and connection to the top of the head. Activate your feet, opening the toes and feeling inner rotation of the thighs. We feel that this erects the spine. If you still feel that your pelvis is tilted backwards it might be a good idea to get a yoga tile or two or a blanket to elevate pelvis.
Take your palms together and exhale in between the navel and the lower part of sternum, where the left and right ribs meet each other (Prana vayu). That helps you to connect the arms to the back and opening the shoulder blades to the sides. With every inhalation feel the connection from the sitting bones to the top of the head. Inhalations elongate the spine. With exhalation under navel (Samana vayu) or prana Vayu turn from the navel to the right. At the same time suck the right leg into the socket of the pelvis and let the left leg be pushed away from the hip. While twisting feel how inhalations elongate the spine when feeling the connection between the sitting bones and the top of the head. There is a two-way-movement: one going towards the sitting bones and the ground and the other one going up toward the top of the head and skies. With exhalation under navel (Samana vayu) relax to the twist. Do the other side.
When coming back to the center continue feeling the elongation of the spine while inhaling. With the exhalations softly and gradually give yourself to the forward bend. Feel the movement starting from the sitting bones and by exhaling three fingers under navel (Samana Vayu) or alternating with prana vayu. At all times activating your feet and legs like you had ape feet, or gecko feet that are trying to grab into the air and the heels firmly on the ground. Just come as far to forward bend as it feels pleasant for you today, at this moment. You can use a bolster on your lap to relax your hands and head on the bolster if that feels pleasant. Whenever you feel it is enough for you, it is time to come back.
Pleasant moments while practicing forward bends!