Physically this posture is great for releasing back tension as it stretches the hamstrings and lower back muscles. It also stimulates the digestive and reproductive systems by massaging the abdominal area, thereby helping peristalsis. It also activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands and it can help improve diabetes.
Emotionally it helps us by calming the nerves, releasing fear and amplifies courage. It also helps bring control over our desire-dominated senses. It’s also a very powerful asana for spiritual awakening…
If you are suffering from Sciatica or a slipped disc it is advisable not to do this posture. During pregnancy or if you are suffering from any spinal, hip or knee problems please work gently. If you know you have short hamstrings please make sure you keep the spine extended and don’t reach further than is comfortable.
It is really important that when doing this posture that you hinge forward at the hips, stretching up and forward from the lower back area, not just bending forward at the waist. To help with this it may help to sit on a cushion to help tilt the pelvis forward slightly. To prepare for this posture we suggest a few hamstring stretches.
How to do this posture
1. Sit upright (on a cushion if necessary) with both legs stretched out in front. Place hands on the ground by your hips. Extend spine upwards towards ceiling. With each inhalation feel your spine extend, exhale and relax your spine slightly.
2. With your palms facing upwards on your lap, breathe in and raise your hands slowly to the heart level, lifting upward though the sternum. As the hands come to the heart visualise a soft light at the heart centre.
3. Rotate the palms to face forward, away from the body and as you exhale gently stretch forward with the arms, moving from the base of your spine, allow yourself to reach forward as far as is comfortable. Once your arms are extended gently allow the body to fold down over your legs (you may need to bend your knees here). Pause for a moment and visualise a soft light flowing from the heart to the crown of the head and down through the arms.
4. With the next in breath, turn the palms to face the sides of legs and begin to uncurl the spine from the base, drawing the hands along the sides of the legs and back up to the heart level. Sternum lifts but keep your shoulders relaxed. As you uncurl the spine you can visualise the soft light flowing up the legs back to the heart.
5. Continue with the flowing movements, working with the breath for a few times, creating a soft slowing rhythm of movement and visualisation of light moving through the body, trying to extend the forward bend a little each time but working within the limits of your own body at all times.
6. For the final forward bend, place your hands at the furthermost point with your palms resting on your shins (or if comfortable your fingers can hook over your toes). Allow your forehead to lower gently towards the knees. Relax in this position breathing gently. Then, in your own time, uncurl gently to an upright sitting position, resting your hands in your lap for a few moments, enjoying the energy and stillness of the posture.
The key intention of this posture is to replenish your energy by letting go of painful emotions. Literally translated this is ‘the west-facing posture’ and like the setting sun, it soothes and calms your mind and emotions. As your back stretches forward old habits patterns are released, losing their hold on you so that your natural intuitive senses can unfold. Experience the wonderful energy this posture brings.