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FORWARD BENDS

Forward bends are deeply calming asanas that draws us in to the inner mysteries and dynamics of our lives. In folding forward we stretch and expose the back of the body, just as there is heightened fear in dropping back into the unknown in some back bends, we tend to hold on with the backside muscles when folding forward.

 

To fully release into forward folds, we must let go of an entire chain of muscles running from the bottom of the feet -- the plantar fascia -- and all along the back of the body to the front of the forehead. (Superficial Back Line Myofascial Meridian) Tension anywhere along this line can cause restrictions in other areas along the line, or cause compensatory patterns elsewhere. 

On the opposite side, the front body gets compressed and stimulated to bring us further into the fold. (Superficial & Deep Front Lines) 

* As we work through each posture, remember the intricate and infinite layers of integration involved. There's no 'right way'. Here we are playing with how asanas relate to one another, how they work together to open the body, and how they build upon one another to further open and balance our bodies. 

SUPERFICIAL BACK LINE (SBL)

The SBL connects and protects the entire back surface of the body from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head in two pieces – toes to knees, and knees to brow. 

When the knees are 'straight' as in standing, the SBL functions as one continuous line of integrated myofascia, which function is to support the body in a full upright extension, preventing the tendency to curl over into flexion exemplified by the fetal position. The exception to the extension function comes at the knees, which, unlike other joints, are flexed to the rear by the muscles of the SBL. 

 

GENERAL ALIGNMENT PRINCIPLES

  • Focus on relaxing and elongating the spine before folding forward.

  • Ground down into what's touching the floor. Sit bones/ feet/ hands.

  • In seated folds if students are unable to achieve pelvic neutrality, with the sacrum tilted slightly forward, encourage them to sit on a prop and work there to elongate their spine.

  • Initiate and maximise the fold through the anterior rotation of the pelvis.

  • Bending knees helps 'slacken' the back line of fascia​ allowing students to release into the fold if they're feeling a lot of tension in the back body.

 

INTEGRATION & COUNTERPOSE

  • Move slowly into the folds and take time to open up. When pursued aggressively, injury to the hamstrings or lower back is likely. 

  • Students with back issues if practicing forward bends should do so with caution. 

  • Gentle backbends - (shoulder bridge or cat/cows) or Twists can be nice neutralisers after folding forward to reintegrate the hamstrings.

  • Forward folds are calming, so are great after the peak of the class, especially after backbends and arm balances. 

  • Seated folds are well initiated through the intelligence of Staff Pose - Dandasana 

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