Forward bends as part of a balanced practice.

Yogic science teaches that there are three bodies in man: the physical body, the astral and the causal. Prana is the energy that links the astral and physical bodies through channels known as nadis. Sushumna nadi is of greatest importance and can be likened to the spinal cord in the physical body, and ida nadi and pingala nadi start at the base of the spine, spiralling up and around sushumna. Ida carries the moon energy, or cooling energy, while pingala is the sun or heating energy.

Forward bends, which are really forward extensions, involve the legs, hips and spine. They effect the physical body, mind energy and emotions. If backbends are energising and extraverting; forward bends are calming and introverting.

Yoga is an integrated, holistic system, with the health of the body, mind and spirit given equal importance. Together, yogic practices work on the healthy functioning of body and mind as the essence of yoga is about balance. It is the middle path of regularity and consistency, not of extremes. It is about right living and the choices that we make in day-to-day life.

Yoga is so much more than pranayama (breathing practices) and asanas (poses) working on the physical body alone, for they also work on the subtler energies within us. As more freedom and space is created within the body, so too is it in the mind. Yoga is therefore about proper exercise, breathing, relaxation, a wholesome nutritious diet, positive thinking and meditation. It is about fostering non-violence, honesty, generosity, kindness, compassion and contentment. As such, the regular practice of yoga increases energy levels, fosters a balanced state of mind and reduces stress levels and fatigue. Yoga brings life to life.

The classical seated forward bend, Paschimottanasana (paschima means the ‘west’, or back of the body) stretches and elongates the back of the body. As circulation is increased in the spine, the spinal nerves are flooded with oxygen, releasing physical and mental tension. Once the body is open enough for the abdomen to reach the thighs, a deep massage is placed on the internal organs and the kidney region is stretched, toning the abdominal region and removing excess weight. Seated forward bends are beneficial for menstrual complaints and sluggish digestion, they also have a meditative quality, and teach us to surrender to the power of breath in challenging situations.

There are also standing forward bends and inverted forward bends such Adho Mukha Svanasana and Halasana.

Forward Bends Yoga Workshop takes place on Sunday 18th October in Clifton, Bristol from 10am - 12pm.
Full details and to reserve a mat space, press here.