ASANA TOOLS -FORWARD BENDING 101


 

Stiff and brittle as a sun baked  twig?….Flexible and limp as dewy earthworm??….

Welcome to FORWARD BENDING: the proverbial jungle of insanity, ambiguity, and inquisition for yogis, yoga teachers, and all humans being alike.

 

It doesn’t really matter if you are stiff as board or as wobbly as an overcooked spaghetti noodle….FORWARD BENDING can be really challenging! For those humans with back issues, joint issues, immobility, hyper-mobility or just simply tighter than tight glutes and hamstrings, forward bending can be as risky swinging through the trees like Tarzan, and as frustrating as herding snails!

The good news is.....Deep within this jungle of confusion, right smack in the middle of muscle imbalances, structural conditions, rocklike obstacles, gangly weeds, and masses of tangled vines of neurological misfire.....not to mention the constant conflicting chirping sounds of "straight legs", "bent knees", "pelvis up", pelvis down", "round back", "flat back", "hang", "engage".........Right in the center of all of this chaos lies a clear, freshwater pool of simplicity.....

MEET FORWARD BENDING 101!

Here are some REAL-LIVE tangible LIFEYOGA tools that will take the myth and confusion out of this simple motion, and allow you to transform your human being into a safe, productive and luscious forward bend.

Simply watch this video, review the rules below, and apply this information to your everyday practice and experience of forward bending! Breathe, feel, and enjoy as you experience the process and result of your forward bend transformation!....you may even find yourself swinging from vines to your stable of snails!

ENTERING THE JUNGLE

REMEMBER...as you enter the jungle...

You are alive because you breathe, your breath controls your subconscious nervous system which controls everything about you…. including your ability to forward bend.

DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH!....This sends your nervous system into a fearful state, making it difficult if not impossible to find your way!

Inhalation stimulates your nervous system. Holding in inhalation while you are “trying” to forward bend (or do anything for that matter) tells your muscle fibers to hold, and also prevents any change in subconscious holding patterns already present!

DO RELEASE YOUR EXHALATION, AND THEN MOVE! Exhalation releases your nervous system, and allows you to fully engage in movement, allows muscle fibers to release, and creates space in the subconscious to release old patterns of holding, thus allowing new movement patterns of release to move through your human!

DO NOT REACH FOR THE FLOOR!.....There is nothing down there but ants....and they don't forward bend....

Although the myth exists that we have “hamstring flexibility of we can touch our toes….The reality is that functional forward bending is all about the rotation of the pelvis around the heads of the femurs….in simple language…how much the tailbone rotates towards the sky and how close the belly comes to the thighs. If you reach for the floor without first having at least a 90 degree angle in between the pelvis and legs…regardless of the positioning of the body (supine, upright, or seated), you are at great risk of intravertabral disc injuries and hamstring tears…..watch video…

 BEGINNING BENDING

DO CREATE A 90 DEGREE ANGLE IN THE HIPS….. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KEEP THE NATURAL LORDOTIC CURVE IN THE LOW BACK UNTIL 90 DEGREE ANGLE OF THE PELVIS IS  HAPPENING….even if that means bending your knees, using blocks, a chair, or in extreme cases a tree or wall.

 Inhale, exhale, then pull the low belly back towards the spine, and begin to pull the tailbone up, and lift the pelvis up away from the heads of the femurs.Allow the change in the angle of the pelvis to cause the glutes.  adductors, and hamstrings to lengthen. Do not use the low back muscles to lift the tailbone up! They may engage a bit in that movement, but you want to initiate that movement from the low belly and pelvic floor….especially if you have low back issues!

BEING “IN” FORWARD BENDING

CONNECTION IS CAUSAL…FORWARD BENDING IS A FULL BODY EXPERIENCE!

Once you have established the 90 degree angle of the pelvis…inhale expand…exhale release the breath, and as the belly pulls back to lift the tailbone up, send energy down through the feet….ground the feet and connect that grounded energy back up through the inner thighs, all the way through the pelvis and spine and out through the head!...Inhale, exhale, repeat!

THERE IS NO POSITION….Release from the idea that you need to reach a certain goal or position. The second you are striving to “get further forward”, your body experiences tension and force which causes more tension….therefore, less progression of flexibility. You are simply “moving” the pelvis to a different angle.

THERE IS ONLY ENERGY MOVING THROUGH….As you release in exhalation and engage energy from the fulcrum of the pelvis through clear pathways in the nervous system, you are able to facilitate the change in the neurological patterning that allows your muscle fibers to release. Focus on release and connection causing movement rather than changing physical position.

COMING OUT

DO NOT “ROLL UP”!.... in releasing from a forward bend, especially if you already have back issues….especially if you do not have a 90 degree angle in pelvis with the legs lengthened. “Rolling up “ puts a great deal of strain on the lumbar vertebra.. unless hamstring flexibility is already present, and the low abdominals and pelvic floor are engaged in the movement.

DO EXHALE,  engage energetically in the low belly and pelvic floor, and lengthen the spine to move upright.

NOTES TO SELF

DO NOT HANG INTO YOUR JOINTS IF YOU ARE HYPERMOBILE….meaning your joints hyperextend (straighten beyond straight)…YOU MUST MICROBEND YOUR KNEES in forward bending and make sure you are engaged and active in the low belly and pelvic floor, lifting the pelvis up, and creating space between the pelvis and the heads of the femurs. You must have space in your joints to properly move energy through them and create a solid functional flexibility and movement! If you are one who flops easily into a full forward bend….beware….you are at risk of arthritis and other degenerative hip issues if you do not practice energetic engagement in your forward bending!

DO NOT GIVE UP if your hips are tighter than tight! Very few people actually have true structural issues that impede forward bending. If you have compromised mobility in your hips, keep inhaling, exhaling, and simply engaging through the abdominals and pelvic floor to feel the pelvis lift away from the heads of the femurs….that IS ENOUGH. You must have that mobility in the pelvis before you hamstrings will ever release!

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

FORWARD BENDING IS A PRACTICE....You must enter the jungle often to begin to feel comfortable, safe and happy within it! Remember, your forward bend has been like it is for awhile now...desired transformation does not happen without release, patience, and engagement! Breath, feel, practice, and smile consistantly, and the changes in your physical body and life will come! You will be swinging happily through the trees like a monkey in no time!

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