For many of us Pashimottanasana, or a seated forward-bend, is one of the hardest asanas in our yoga practice.
When we face ‘difficult’ asanas in our yoga practice we experience the same feeling we have when facing hard situations in life. We just want to get out of there as soon as possible. And, if we can avoid it forever, better.
However, running away from it is not the best way to solve the problem. But facing it. So, let’s see why this happens.
One of the reasons why this asana is so hard is because usually the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your thighs that connect the hip joint and the knee) are stiff. Usually due to our life style, spending many hours seated (at the school, at the office, sofa, etc…), without being used.
And, the problem is that, if we don’t do anything to change this situation, it can get worse. To work on it, start slow. Remember that, especially, in the morning the whole body is stiffer. So, go easy.
Start by practicing Janu Sirsásana, head-to-knee pose. Remember, when you find things difficult (on and off the mat) BREATHE… ;))
1. Sit comfortabely on the floor with spine straight. Bend the left knee, bringing the sole of the left foot to the right inner tigh.
2. Take a deep inhalation, lifting the arms above the head, exhale an fold forward from the top of your hips (not from your waist!).
3. Rest the hand on your legs or feet. Stay there for a few breathes and then return repeating the asana with the opposite leg.
After this, practice your Pashimottanasana (seated forward-bend) with feet together or hip distance apart. After you fold forward stay there and practice the Bhástrika breathing (this will help you to release tension in the body and get the Prana you need to hold the asana.).
Easy version: use a block under your hips. Hook a strap around the feet. Walk your hands forward on the mat as you fold or use a strap.
(NOTE: place the strap around your heels or balls of your feet. NOT like in the pic!! )
Before you bend, take your hands to your buttocks and pull them back. While you bend open the chest and ‘offer the heart’.
Don’t worry if you move just a little. What is important is that you are feeling your hamstrings stretching. That’s the job. With time and practice it will get better and easier. 🙂
Remember, the secret is: daily. Practice it every day. I also true believe that a vegetable-based diet can improve our flexibility. Why not to try food as a help? 😉
I love to hear your comments. Let me know if this helped.