In the rear part of your legs lots of tensions are stored; that is why doing forward bends that stretch this part, give you immediate stress relief and increased calmness.
Tips for good forward bends:
• Warming-up of hips, pelvis, spine and shoulders.
• Lengthen your leg muscles with the yoga belt exercise
• If you are rigid in these movements use a yoga belt in the poses to loosen up bit by bit your muscles.
• Use your breath in the positions. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale come forward and relax. Use your exhalations to go further in the forward bending.
• When you are in the forward bend at your maximum capacity try to relax, let go and breathe naturally .
Adho Mukha Shvanasana: downward dog pose
Come on your hands and knees, your hands a bit in front of your shoulders (not vertically underneath them). Knees aligned with your hips.
Breathe out and come upward straighten your legs pressing your toes in the floor, then bring your heels down to the floor. Bring your straight arms in alignment with your torso, biceps next to your ears. You are an inverted “V.”
Press palms and every finger firmly into the floor. Breathe normally , stay here for 30 sec to 3 minutes.
Breathe in, lengthen the spine, breathe out and bring the knees back to the floor and bring your hands on your thighs or come in a counter position balasana; child pose if you desire and relax for a few moments.
Padahastasana: jackknife pose
A position in two phases:
Phase one: from tadasana , breathe in and with a gracious circle bring your hands upward above your head and lengthen your body.
Exhale bring the gluteus backward and bend forward from the hips with a straight spine and neck aligned to spine.
Your hands are next to your torso with palms up. Stay here for 20 seconds to 1 minute and breathe naturally.
Phase two: bend downward, your abdomen contacts your upper legs and touch with your hands your toes, ankles or calves, with your elbows relaxed to the inside. You can reach your maximum extension in 2 or 3 breaths, bending more whilst exhaling.
You do this best without curving the spine; if your spine curves too much then flex your knees a bit.
Lengthen your muscles by reaching for the sky with your buttocks whilst your feet are pressing on the floor. When you have reached the maximum of your forward bend; breathe out and abandon yourself in the pose.
Breathe normally , stay here for 30 sec to 3 minutes.
Relax your hands, bend your knees , breathe in press your feet on the floor and use your abdominal muscles to come upward vertebra by vertebra; bring your arms up above your body and your head comes back in its neutral position, your arms come down again in their neutral position. You are in tadasana, relax for a few moments.
Exit: if you have knee problems:
It might be better to bend down on the floor then lay down in Shavasana (supine ) to relax a few moments.
Paschimotanasana: extended forward bend pose
A position in two phases:
Phase one: from Dandasana (cane pose) breathe in and bring your hands upward stretch upward your complete spine.
Exhale and bend your hips forward coming forward above your legs, keeping the spine straight, put your hands next to your body.
Your shoulders are distant from your ears. Stay here for a minute and breathe normally.
Phase two: breathe in lengthen yourself and bend forward and breathe out , do this two or three times until you reach the maximum of the stretching and here abandon yourself to the position,
permitting your spine to relax, with your hands on your legs, ankles or toes and your elbows relaxed and inward.
Breathe normally , stay here for 30 sec to 3 minutes
Breathe in, use your abdominal muscles to come back in in a neutral position with your torso , open your arms in a circle upward around your body and sit in Dandasana (cane pose) relax for a few moments.
If you are too rigid in the spine you can use a yoga belt to work on increasing your flexibility in forward bends.
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