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Facing Forwards with Optimism

Continuing our theme for Spring cleaning our poses – this week we’re looking at Forward Bends.

Forward Bends

We can practice forward bends in a variety of ways. From standing to seated and being on the floor. But they all have the movement of bringing the chest and thighs towards each other, and are primarily about stretching our entire back body.

Physical benefits

We are elongating and stretching, lengthening our entire back body.  Depending from which position we start, the effects can feel different. i.e standing in a forward bend with legs wide (Padottasana) versus legs together (Uttanasana), and also seated forward bends with legs together (Paschimottonasana), versus wide legs (Upavishta Konasana).

We are increasing the space between the vertebrae and hopefully increasing circulation and blood flow into the discs.  There is a release aiming for more circulation into our legs, ankles, feet, knees, hips, back and neck. The entire back body is being awakened.

They also give us time to press into the abdominal region, pending leg position. But with legs together we get the opportunity to compress the abdominal region. This stimulates our digestive organs, providing them with a massage as they get compressed and released. Stimulating digestion, assimilation and elimination processes.

Also consider activating the muscles through the front of your legs. So pull up through your quadriceps and notice if you feel a lengthening on the back of your legs.  Have you ever noticed the verbal cue in downward dog may give you this activation of the front legs and lengthening through your back of legs?

Contra indications

There are concerns with lower back issues: disc herniation, and sciatic issues in forward bends.  Remember Sthira Sukham Asanam on maintaining our steadiness in postures.  All our bodies are different.

Disc Herniation: Some of us may overextend our lower back. Others may roll too much through flexion. So I ask that you play with some tilting of your pelvis but also notice the alignment in relation to your rib cage to find the balance and length that feels best for you. We’ll play with some gentle tilts of the pelvis (anterior and posterior) finding our best alignments.  Rotation of the legs internally or externally rotated in poses can open the pelvis too.

Remember to bend your legs in forward bends in order to create space for the spine to lengthen – our spine is more important than our hamstrings.

Sciatic Pain: We would prefer to soften, rather than try to stretch or force if we feel any sciatic pain.  Maybe it’s a tightness in your hips, and a catching of the nerve as it tries to slide through for the stretches. So never force the legs to stretch, thinking you’ll release sciatic pain this way. Soften, mobilise and release.

Energetic level

On an energetic level, forward bends restore and calm our nervous system.  Think about your adrenal glands sitting on top of your kidneys. When you stretch forward, they get stretched out and can expand. Soften and breathe into them.

Also consider that you are resting your heart in a forward bend. So feel your heart energy. The front and back of your heart centre, Anahata Chakra, being softened and opened at the same time.

Forward bends are cooling, calming and quietening. So in Summer they are therapeutic having a quietening effect as we draw our senses inward. Ever noticed how in a forward bend you turn inward toward your own heart and self, and turn away from the outside world.  The answers are within. As we give ourselves time in forward bends, listen for them. They’re there waiting for us to listen.


Forward bends give us time to reflect inwards as mentioned above. From the busyness of our external lives, when turning inward it’s time to quieten in. Try closing your eyes to minimise external distractions. Then notice if the mind becomes more still, as the body’s rhythms quieten and we surrender in.

It’s always nice to remember why we do poses. Did you notice during the standing poses last week, I held you in a wide leg forward bend (for example) and it gave you time to calm the ner- vous system and slow and regulate the breaths again? 🙂

Our mantra for this week

I give myself time to surrender into myself. To listen and to release my back body tensions.

“Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place”


Louise Eddy

Louise Eddy

Yoga Teacher & Owner

Louise is passionate about her practice and her understanding of yoga. Her journey in life has led her to study and practice yoga for the past 20+yrs. In the past 5+ years she has also focussed on Mental health and well-being and has actively been involved teaching classes in community and special needs areas with this focus.

She gives thanks for the knowledge that has been passed along from the teachers and students before that have paved the way for the journey of yoga as it is in the west. She teaches from her heart with gratitude and love. ​Om Shanti.

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