Nourish Emotions with Forward Bends
Nourish your emotions with forward bends. The classic seated forward bend, Paschimottonasana, teaches us to fold into ourselves which leads to deeper self reflection. This can be both emotionally nourishing or difficult depending on what comes up. Forward bends like Balasana (child’s pose) is very emotionally nourishing. We are in this position for nine months and we return to this fetal position to nurture and protect ourselves. When we fold forward, we stimulate the pelvic and abdominal organs. This very base energy is focused in the lower chakras and can reveal base emotions held by the body. Holding forward bends for at least a few minutes with deep, consistent breathing, allows us to safely explore these emotions.
Stretch the Back with Forward Bends
When we fold forward, we expose the vulnerable side of our back. We tend to hold on with our back muscles when folding forward because we have a fear of dropping into the unknown. To release fully into forward bends, we have to let go of a whole chain of muscles: the feet, lower legs, hamstrings, adductors, glutes, piriformis, lower back, muscles across the entire back, spinal muscles. That is a lot to release! This release requires patience as the back gradually releases. If we approach this too aggressively, we can cause injury to the hamstrings or lower back.
Feel Emotions with Forward Bends
Tips for practicing forward bends, both to release emotions and to release back muscles.
- Forward bends can be practiced at any time but are better practices when the body has been warmed through Vinyasa or other asana.
- Supine forward bends are safest for the lower back. Use a strap if you cannot touch your toes!
- Seated forward bends are best started from Dandasana, the foundational pose of forward bends. You can elevate your hips by sitting on a blanket or bolster to ease strain in the hamstrings.
- Hip openers like gomukhasana release hip extensors and external rotators and is an excellent preparation for forward bends. Also, hip openers help us release deep, pent up emotions with forward bends.
- Virasana prepares the knees for seated forward bends. Try placing the arms in Garudasana to open the muscles in the mid and upper back. These muscles need to release when practicing seated forward bends.
- Complete standing poses that stretch the hamstrings to prepare for seated forward folds like Trikonasasna.
After completing deep forward bends, practice gentle back bends like bridge pose to reintegrate the hamstrings. Also try some simple twists to reintegrate the spine. Release your back, your hips, and your emotions with forward bends!
Learn more about forward bends with my instructional e-book, Essential Guide to Ashtanga for Beginners.
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