Forward Bending Asanas Benefits

By on May 5, 2015
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FORWARD BENDING ASANAS

This group of asanas is very important for stretching and toning the spinal nerves, making the back muscles supple and strong and for compressing and massaging the abdominal organs. A supple back is most important for maintaining good health. People who have a supple back are blessed with vitality and health, whereas those with rigid spines are afflicted with all kinds of illnesses or aches and pains.

Beginners and sedentary workers who get very little physical exercise, are likely to find these asanas quite difficult to do at first because the backs are unaccustomed to bending forward very much. They should not despair but persevere, trying to bend the back as far forward as it will go without excessive strain. After some time even the most rigid back will become more supple as the muscles stretch. The individual will be pleasantly surprised to find that he can bend his back much further than he thought possible.

No one should force the back to bend further than its flexibility will allow, otherwise injury may result. The muscles of the back gradually elongate in their own time; it is just a matter of practicing these asanas regularly and waiting for the muscles to stretch.

The practitioner should not do the entire forward bending asanas one after the other but choose a couple and perfect them over a period of weeks or months. He can attempt the others later when his back is more flexible.

PASCHIMOTTANASANA

PASCHIMOTTANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-87: Paschimottanasana (the back stretching pose)

  • Sit on the floor with the legs straight in front of the body, the lower arms on the thighs.
  • Relax the whole body, especially the back muscle and slowly bend the body forward.
  • Try to grasp the big toes with the fingers and the thumbs. If this is difficult then hold the heels, ankles or the legs as near to the feet as possible.
  • Again, consciously relax the back and leg muscle- keeping the legs straight and without utilizing the back muscles and only using the arms- pull the trunk little lower toward the legs.
  • This should be performed without any sudden movement or excessive strain anywhere in the body. If possible touch the knees with the forehead.
  • Remain in the final pose for a comfortable length of time, trying to further relax the whole body, and then slowly return to the starting position.

 

IMPORTANT POINTS-

  • Do not bend the legs at the knees.
  • It is part of the aim of the asana to stretch the muscles at the back of the legs. Do not force and allow the muscles to get elongated in time.
  • After some weeks or months of regular practice you will be able to touch the knees with the forehead or perhaps even the chin.

Breathing-

  • Breathe normally in the sitting position.
  • Exhale slowly while bending forward.
  • Inhale while holding the body motionless. Exhale as you pull the trunk further forward with the arms.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply in the final pose.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • If the final pose is not held for a long time the breath may be retained outside.

Duration-

  • Adepts can maintain the final pose for up to 5 minutes providing they are comfortable in it.
  • Beginners should perform the asana a few times, staying in the final pose for only a short length of time.
  • Spiritual aspirants should aim to stay in the final position with complete relaxation for extended lengths of time.

Concentration-
Physical and mental- On the abdomen, relaxation of the back muscles or the slow breathing process.
Sequence-
Use as a counter pose to backward bending asanas.
Limitations-
People who have slipped discs, sciatica, chronic arthritis and sacral infections should not do this asana.
Benefits-

  • Stretches the hamstring muscles and loosens the hip joints.
  • Effectively removes excess fat in the abdominal region.
  • Tones all the abdominal organs and removes diseases of this area, such as diabetes.
  • It also activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands.
  • Tones the pelvic organs and is therefore especially useful for eliminating female sexual maladies.
  • Encourages a good flow of fresh blood to the spinal nerves and muscles.

This is a very powerful asana for spiritual awakening and is highly regarded in ancient yoga texts.

DYNAMIC PASHTIMOTTANASANA

DYNAMIC PASHTIMOTTANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-88: Dynamic paschimottanasana

  • Lie flat on the floor with the arms stretched behind the head.
  • Relax the whole body.
  • Slowly raise the trunk to the sitting position, keeping the arms above the head.
  • Bend forward into paschimottanasana. .
  • Hold for a short time and then return to the sitting position.
  • Return to the supine position.
  • Practice a maximum of 10 times.

Breathing-

  • Breathe normally in the supine position.
  • Inhale while rising to the sitting posture.
  • Exhale while bending into paschimottanasana.
  • Retain your breath outside while in paschimottanasana.
  • Inhale while returning to the supine pose.

Concentration
On the movement of the body or the breath.
Benefits-

  • Loosens up the whole body.
  • Gives the same benefits as paschimottanasana, though at a reduced level.

 

PADA PRASAR PASCHIMOTTANASANA

PADA PRASAR PASCHIMOTTANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-89: Pada prasar paschimottanasana (the legs spread and back stretching pose)

  • Sit with the legs spread as wide as possible.
  • Clasp the hands over the head and swivel the torso slightly to the right.
  • Stretch the arms upward and bend the trunk downward.
  • Touch the right knee with the nose.
  • Raise the trunk and repeat on the opposite side.

VARIATION-1

Pada prasar paschimottanasana- variation 1

  • Sit with the legs spread and the hands clasped behind the back.
  • Raise the arms and try to touch the ground between the knees with the nose.
  • Raise the trunk and resume a seated position.

VARIATION-2

Pada prasar paschimottanasana – variation 2

  • Sit with the legs spread but do not clasp the hands behind the back.
  • Bend forward, grasp the big toes and try to place the forehead on the floor.
  • Do not bend the knees.
  • Return to the starting position after a short time in the final pose.

Breathing (for all three techniques)-

  • Breathe normally in the sitting position.
  • Retain the breath while bending forward into the final pose and returning to the starting position.

Duration-
Perform each technique up to 5 times.
Sequence-
This asana is a counter pose to backward bending asanas.
Limitations-
Not to be done by people with slipped disc, sciatica, chronic arthritis or sacral infections.
Benefits-
This asana has essentially the same benefits as paschimottanasana.

 

JANU SIRSHASANA

JANU SIRSHASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-90: Janu sirshasana (The head to knee pose)

  • Sit with the legs stretched in front of the body.
  • Fold one leg and place the heel against the perineum, the sole touching the opposite thigh.
  • Keep the knee on the floor throughout.
  • Lean forward.
  • Grasp the toes of the straight leg with both hands. Do not bend the knee.
  • Utilizing only the arms, not the back muscles, pull the trunk forward slowly so that the head is on the straight knee.
  • Repeat the process with the other leg folded.

Important points-

  • Keep both knees in contact with the floor.
  • Do not strain the muscles but gently stretch them.

Breathing-

  • Exhale while bending the trunk forward.
  • Retain the breath if you stay in the final pose for a short time.
  • Breathe normally if the pose is held for long periods.
  • Inhale while returning to the sitting position.

All other details as for paschimottanasana.

 

ARDHA PADMA PASCHIMPTTANASANA

ARDHA PADMA PASCHIMPTTANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-91: Ardha padma paschimottanasana (The half lotus back stretching pose)

  • Place one foot on the opposite thigh, keeping the other leg stretched in front of the body.
  • Grasp the toes of the straight leg with the hand on the same side of the body.
  • Utilizing the arms, not the back muscles, slowly pull the trunk forward so that the head is near or resting on the straight knee.
  • Keep both knees on the floor.
  • Repeat the process with the other leg folded.

Important points-

  • If the practitioner is able, one can pass the arm behind the back and grasp the big toe of the folded – leg.
  • All other details as for paschimottanasana.

 

SIRSHA ANGUSTHA YOGASANA

SIRSHA ANGUSTHA YOGASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-92:Sirsha angustha yogasana (The head to toe pose)

  • Stand erect with your feet about 3 feet apart.
  • Clasp the hands behind the back.
  • Twist the upper torso to the left.
  • Bend the body at the waist, stretch the arms upward, and bring the nose down to the left foot.
  • Bend the left leg slightly to assume this position.
  • Raise the trunk and recenter the body.
  • Repeat on the right side.
  • Practice a maximum of 5 times on each side.

Breathing-

  • Inhale while standing erect.
  • Retain your breath while twisting, bending and rising.
  • Exhale when upright.

Limitations-
Not to be practiced by people who have back ailments such as slipped disc, Or sacral infections.
Benefits-

  • This asana stretches the hamstring muscles, provides lateral stretch to the spine and eliminates waistline fat deposits.
  • It stimulates the entire nervous system and the appetite.
  • It helps to remove abdominal problems and constipation.

 

PADA HASTASANA

PADA HASTASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-93: Pada hastasana (The forward bending pose)

  • Stand erect with the hands beside the body.
  • Slowly bend the head forward, then the upper trunk and the lower trunk.
  • The body should bend forward as though there are no muscles in the back.
  • Place the fingers underneath the toes or touch the ground with the palms to the fingertips. If this is difficult then bring the fingertips as near to the ground as possible.
  • Try to bring the forehead to the knees.
  • Maintain this pose up to 1 minute then slowly return to the starting position.

Important Points-

  • Keep the legs straight throughout the movement.
  • Do not strain the hamstring muscles at the back of the legs, or the back muscles by forcing the body to bend too far forward.

Breathing-

  • Exhale as you bend forward.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply in the final pose.
  • Inhale as you return to the starting point.

Concentration
On relaxing the back muscles or on the breath. Pada hastasana (dynamic form)

 

PADA HASTASANA2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Assume the standing position.
  • Raise your arms above the head and lean the trunk backward.
  • Bend forward and touch the hands to the floor.
  • Remain in the bent position for one or two seconds and then return to the upright pose.
  • Repeat as many times as possible without exhaustion

Breathing-

  • Exhale as you bend forward.
  • Retain the breath outside in the bent position.
  • Inhale as you resume the starting position.

Limitations (for both forms)-
Not recommended for people with serious back ailments.
Benefits (for both forms)-

  • Removes excess fat, particularly if done dynami­cally.
  • Eliminates flatulence, constipation and indi­gestion.
  • Makes the spinal column and back muscles loose and supple.
  • All the spinal nerves are stimulated and toned and the body metabolism is speeded up.
  • Influences the sexual organs, removing sexual ailments and prepares for trouble-free childbirth.
  • Improves the elimination of waste matter from the body and so reduces the likelihood of disease.
  • It directs a good flow of blood to the brain and facial organs.

This useful asana can be practiced at any time of day. It is a standing version of paschimottanasana.

 

HASTA PADA ANGUSTHASANA

HASTA PADA ANGUSTHASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-94: Hasta pada angushthasana (the finger to toe stretch pose)

  • Lie on the left side with arms stretched over and behind the head.
  • The right foot should rest on the left foot, and the right palm on the left palm.
  • Raise the right leg and arm to their full extent without bending them so that they each form a 45 degree angle with the floor.
  • Hold the big toe without bending the knee.
  • Lower the right arm and leg and repeat on the opposite side.

Breathing-

  • Inhale and raise the limbs.
  • Exhale while lowering.

Duration
Practice a maximum of 10 times on both sides.
Concentration
On the physical movement.
Benefits-

  • This asana makes the hip joints flexible.
  • It is especially beneficial for young girls.
  • It is useful for reducing fat on the hips and thighs.

 

MERU AKARSHANASANA

MERU AKARSHANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-95: Meru akarshanasana (the spinal bending pose)

  • Lie on the right side with the left leg on top of the right.
  • Raise the upper torso and head and support them on the elbow by placing the right hand under the side of the head.
  • Place the left hand on the left thigh.
  • Raise the left leg as high as possible.
  • Simultaneously slide the left hand to the foot and grasp the big toe.
  • Do not bend the knee.
  • Lower the raised leg and arm back down to their base position.
  • Practice a maximum of 10 times on each side.

Breathing-

  • Inhale while raising the arm and leg.
  • Exhale while lowering.

Concentration-
On the physical movement.
Benefits-

  • Relaxes hamstring and abdominal muscles.
  • Stretches the side muscles, making them more flexible and strong.
  • Reduces fat on the hips and thighs.

 

UTTHITA JANU SIRSHASANA

UTTHITA JANU SIRSHASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-96: Utthita janu sirshasana (The standing head between the knee pose)

  • Stand erect with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart.
  • Extend the arms straight in front of the chest.
  • Bend forward and clasp the hands behind the lower legs.
  • Bring the head as far as possible into the space between the knees while keeping the legs straight.

Breathing-

  • Inhale deeply and exhale fully before bending.
  • Retain the breath outside while bending.
  • Inhale after returning to the erect position.

Sequence
As a counter pose to backward bending poses.
Limitations-
Not to be practiced by sufferers of sciatica, sacral infections, chronic arthritis or slipped disc.

Benefits-

  • This asana stimulates the pancreas and relaxes the hip joints and hamstring muscles.
  • It massages the spinal nerves and brings a rich supply of blood to the brain curbing tiredness, yawning and lethargy.

Utthita janu sirshasana (variation)

Utthita janu sirshasana (variation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand erect with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart.
  • Bend the legs slightly at the knees.
  • Repeat the forward bending movement as described for utthita janu sirshasana.
  • Wrap the arms around the back of the legs so that they are horizontal, the elbows pointing sideways.
  • Keeping the legs bent, try to bring the hands forward between the legs and clasp them behind the back of the head.
  • Consciously relax the back muscles.
  • Then slowly and gently try to straighten the legs, keeping the hands behind the head.
  • Do not strain.
  • Hold the final pose for a short time and then release by bending the legs.
  • Repeat as desired.

Breathing-

  • Breathe out as you straighten the legs.
  • Hold the breath or try to breathe normally in the final pose, depending on how long you remain in it.
  • Breathe in as you bend the legs and release the final pose by bending the legs.

This more intense form of utthita janu sirshasana is sometimes known as utthan asana.

 

EKA PADA PADMOTTANASANA

EKA PADA PADMOTTANASANA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise-97: Eka pada padmottanasana (The leg raised to head pose)

  • Sit with the legs stretched forward.
  • Bend the left leg and place the foot flat on the ground in front of the left hip.
  • Fold the right leg keeping the knee flat on ground, and place the right heel under the perineum.
  • Interlock the-fingers under the left foot.
  • Raise the left foot and straighten the knee.
  • Bring the knee up to the nose and keep the leg straight.
  • Stretch each leg a maximum of 5 times.

Breathing-

  • Inhale while seated.
  • Retain your breath while raising and lowering the leg.
  • Exhale when seated.

Limitations-
Not for persons with any back ailment.
Benefits-
Makes hamstring muscles and hip joints flexible.

About Sharat S.

To keep my friends and readers Healthy, I love to write and share articles on Fruits, Vegetables, Yoga Exercise and more. Importantly, I always promote natural remedies to keep your body healthy.

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