Forward bend poses are performed with the body bending from the hip joints. The most popular yoga asanas are uttanasana, paschimottanasana, balasana, etc. Bending can be standing or sitting with both straight legs and bent ones.
Forward bend yoga asanas have therapeutic effect: it helps to improve digestion, to eliminate fat in the lumbar area, and it contributes to the general healing. Therefore, they refer to therapeutic asanas.
Benefits and effects of forward bends:
Forward bend stimulates digestion, reproductive system, and work of the endocrine glands (adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries). However, it works only under the following conditions:
- The belly is pressed against the thigh (or thighs).
- Abdominal breathing is maintained.
As a result, it “massages” the internal organs: liver, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands, intestines, etc. It also improves venous and lymphatic outflow and the supply of fresh blood with the oxygen and nutrients.
Forward bend poses also have a calming and relaxing effect, especially if sitting or lying down.
From the point of view of the musculoskeletal system, the bends stretch the muscles of the buttocks and the rear part of the legs. It helps to increase flexibility and mobility.
Restrictions and safety in forward bends
The greatest risk of forward bend asanas is the ability to overstretch and injure the lower back, especially with low flexibility and problems with the spine.
The most dangerous in this sense are forward bends while sitting with the straight legs. It is especially relevant for paschimottanasana. Less dangerous are standing forward bends, or seated forward bends with bended knees.
Considering that almost 2/3 of the population have spinal problems, and the flexibility of most beginners is low, it is better to refrain from performing seated bends (paschimottanasana, janu shirshasana, etc.). For beginners it’s better to start with standing and lying poses.
In any case, it is necessary to strictly maintain a straight back when bending forward. Bending should start from the hip joints, not the lower back!
Be careful while performing forward bends if you suffer from varicose veins of the legs and pelvis. Stay no longer than 2-3 minutes in asana.
Again, it is noteworthy that the main requirement in the forward bends is a straight spine without slouching in the lower back. Bending should start in the hip joints, not in the back.
If you cannot bend forward while sitting with your back straight to a angle of at least 60 °, you should replace these poses with standing ones until the mobility and flexibility increases.
Another way to simplify this kind of asanas is to bend the legs. Bent legs will make the pose even more effective, since not only weak hamstrings, but the entire rear thighs muscles will be evenly stretched.
For sitting asanas combined with forward bends, the same rules apply as for sitting postures: when there is a lack of mobility, a pillow, or a yoga block is placed under the pelvis and / or knee.
After performing deep forward bends, a compensatory asana should be performed to prevent overstretching of the spine. This can be power backward bending, for example, purvottanasana, setu bandhasana, etc.