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This series of postures helps to keep the back supple, joints mobile, nervous system invigorated, and the internal organs toned. During a forward bend the spine is moved into the position known as the primary curve, the shape it takes in the womb. This action creates space between each vertebrae, stimulates the nerves, improves circulation and nourishes the spinal cord.

Forward bending is a passive process in which gravity is utilized to stretch. Muscles resist strain and force so it is important to practice with care and ease, allowing the body to gradually release.

For most of the forward bending asanas it is encouraged to bend from the hips. This gives greater flexibility of movement and creates a stronger pressure against the abdomen. As the abdomen is compressed the abdominal organs are massaged and a fresh flush of blood and oxygen pumps through the entire digestive system. This is a highly effective way to detoxify the body, naturally resulting in better digestion, increased energy, and even weight loss.

Forward bending poses are associated with humility and surrender. They introvert the awareness, promote full exhalation and induce relaxation. As the body is folded forward, the breath calms, the heart rate slows and thoughts settle. These natural responses relieve stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, and sinusitis, this group of poses aims to calm, centre and restore the body, mind and soul.

Please note that forward bends are not recommended for anyone with herniated or bulging discs, sciatica, or sacroiliac pain.
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One leg raised to head pose

Eka Padottanasana

  • Sit in the Seated Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti).
  • Bend the right knee and position the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh.
  • Bend the left leg and place the foot on the floor in front of the left buttock.
  • Raise the left foot and interlock the fingers underneath.
  • Draw the left knee towards the abdomen.
  • Keep the spine long and gradually straighten the leg to the ceiling.
  • Hold the pose for as long as comfortable then release by bending the knee and lowering the foot to the floor.
  • Practice up to 5 times with this leg and repeat up to 5 times with the other leg.

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Standing head between knees pose

Utthia Janu Sirshasana

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and arms beside the body.
  • Keep the back and head aligned, bend forward from the hips and lower the abdomen toward the thighs.
  • Wrap the arms around the outside of the legs and either clasp the hands behind the calves or interlock the fingers.
  • Lower the head toward the knees.
  • Keep the legs straight and use the arm muscles to gently pull the torso closer to the thighs.
  • Hold the pose for as long as comfortable then release the arms, engage the abdominal muscles and mindfully raise the body upright.
  • Practice up to 5 times.

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Head to toe pose

Sirsha Angustha Yogasana

  • Stand with the feet as wide apart as comfortable and keep the legs straight.
  • Turn the right foot out to the right at 90 degrees and turn the left foot in slightly.
  • Roll the right thigh outward, so that the centre of the right knee cap is in line with the centre of the right ankle.
  • Interlock the fingers behind the back, with the palms turned up.
  • Twist the torso to the right and bend the right knee over the right ankle.
  • Fold forward from the hips and bring the head down towards the inside of the right foot.
  • Straighten the arms up behind the body and allow them to fall forward.
  • Hold the position for as long as comfortable.
  • To release, realign the head, neck and spine then lower the arms onto the back, press the feet into the floor, lift the torso upright and straighten the bent knee.
  • Reverse the feet and repeat for the same duration of time to the left.
  • Practice up to 5 rounds.

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Hand to foot pose

Padahastanana

  • Stand with the feet together and the arms beside the body.
  • Keep the back and head aligned and bend forward from the hips.
  • Bend the knees as much as required to bring the abdomen in contact with the thighs.
  • Lower the head toward the shins.
  • Take the hands as near to the floor as possible.
  • Hold the position for as long as comfortable then engage the abdominal muscles and mindfully raise the body upright.
  • Practice up to 5 times or hold the pose for up to 5 minutes.

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Spinal bending pose

Meru akarshanasana

  • Lie on the right side of the body with the left foot on top of the right.
  • Bend the right arm and place the right elbow on the floor.
  • Raise the torso and head. Support them by the right elbow, resting the head on the right palm.
  • Place the left arm on the left thigh.
  • Keep the legs straight, raise the left leg as high appropriate and slide the left hand toward the left foot.
  • Hold for a moment, then slowly lower.
  • Practice up to 10 times on this side then up to 10 times on the left.

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Finger to toe stretch

Hasta pada angusthasana

  • Lie on the right side of the body with the left foot on top of the right.
  • Stretch the arms above the head and rest the left palm on top of the right.
  • Straighten the body from the fingers to the toes.
  • Keep the arms and legs straight and raise the left leg and left arm to their full extent.
  • Hold for a moment then slowly lower.
  • Practice up to 10 times on this side then up to 10 times on the left.

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Head to knee pose

Janu sirshasana

  • Sit in the Seated Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti).
  • Bend the right knee and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh.
  • Square the torso over the extended left leg and rest the hands on the thigh.
  • Lengthen the spine then fold forward from the hips.
  • Extend as far as appropriate without rounding the spine.
  • Hold the pose for as long as comfortable then slowly lift the torso upright to the seated position.
  • Practice up to 5 times or hold the pose for up to 5 minutes.

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Legs spread back stretch pose

Pada Prasar Paschimottanasana

  • Sit in the Seated Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti).
  • Separate the legs as wide apart as comfortable and flex the feet to engage the thigh muscles.
  • Place the hands on the floor in front of the body.
  • Lengthen the spine then fold forward from the hips.
  • Extend as far as appropriate without rounding the spine.
  • Hold the pose for as long as comfortable then slowly lift the torso upright and return to the seated position.
  • Practice up to 5 times or hold the pose for up to 5 minutes.

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Dynamic Back Stretching pose

Gatyatmak Paschimottanasana

  • Lie on the back with the feet together.
  • Rest the hands on the floor above the head with the palms facing up.
  • Keep the upper arms close to the ears and raise the torso sit upright.
  • Lengthen the spine up then bend from the hips and lower the torso over the legs.
  • When the hands reach the toes, relax the elbows and head.
  • Hold for a moment then return to the sitting position, with the arms above the head.
  • Engage the abdominal muscles and lower the torso down to the floor, back to the starting position.
  • Practice up to 10 times.

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Back Stretching pose

Paschimottanasana

  • Sit in the Seated Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti) and rest the hands on the thighs.
  • Hinge forward from the hips and slowly lower the torso over the legs.
  • Simultaneously slide the hands toward the toes.
  • Lengthen the front of the torso, elongate the spine and keep the head and neck aligned.
  • Use the exhaling breath to soften into the bend.
  • Hold the pose for as long as comfortable then slowly raise the torso and return to the seated position.
  • Practice up to 5 times or hold the pose for up to 5 minutes.

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Animal relaxation pose

Saithalyasana - Animal relaxation pose

  • Sit in the Seated Base Position (Prarambhik Sthiti).
  • Bend the right knee and place the foot on the inside of the left thigh.
  • Bend the left knee and lay the left heel to the outside of the left buttock.
  • Square the torso over the right knee and rest the hands on the right thigh.
  • Straighten the arms above the head and separate them to shoulder width apart.
  • Bend forward over the right knee, lower the forehead and hands to the floor simultaneously.
  • Relax in the forward bend.
  • To release, engage the abdominal muscles and raise the arms, head and torso in one straight line.
  • Once upright, lower the hands to the knee.
  • Practice up to 5 times to the right and up to 5 times to the left.

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