Like many people my thoughts this week have been with the people of the Gulf Coast who have lost everything in the wake of hurricane Katrina. I like to suggest that we all dedicate our practice this month to all the people who have lost so much. Also we should give thanks to the dedicated rescuers and everyone who went in to help, like our friend Andrea who is working with the Red Cross efforts.
Forward bends allow us to slow down and go deeply inside ourselves. In the last week, so many of our yoginis have mentioned that their yoga practice is a place of peace and solace at a troubling time. I hope that practicing forward bends this month will help us to connect with our inner strength so that we can send that strength out into the community and the world.
Here is a list of standing forward bends from Light on Yoga; these
poses can be added during a standing practice to rest between more
1)Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
2)Padangusthasana (Hand to big toe forward bend)
3)Padhastasana (Hand to foot forward bend)
4)Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide leg forward bend)
5)Parsvottanasana (Intense leg stretch)
6)Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (One leg forward bend, or standing split)
7)Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half-bound lotus forward bend)
Here is a list of seated forward bends from Light on Yoga; you could
build an all seated practice from these poses, or you could do them
toward the end of a standing or inverted practice. I love practicing
forward bend in the evening before bed. For any of these, resting your
forehead, on a block, bolster, chair, or your shin can be very restful.
My teacher suggests resting in paschimottanasana with your head
supported if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back
1)Virasana forward bend (forward bend in hero’s pose)
2)Baddha konasana forward bend (forward bend in bound angle)
3)Yoga mudrasana (cross-legged forward bend, hand clasped behind back)
4)Maha mudra (extended one leg forward bend, clasping big toe)
5)Janu sirsasana (one leg forward bend)
6)Parivrtta janu sirasana (revolved one leg forward bend)
7)Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana (half-bound lotus forward bend)
8)Triang mukhaikapada paschimottanasana (one leg in virasana, one externded)
9)Krounchasana (heron pose)
12)Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
13)Parivrtta paschimottanasana (revolved seated forward bend)
14)Urdvha mukha paschimottanasana I (upward facing seated forward bend)
15)Urdvha mukha paschimottanasana II (that the upside down version)
16)Kurmasana (tortoise pose)
Forward bends are included as part of many media practices. There are a few that specifically focus on forward bends such as:
Manuso Manos', Yoga the Home Study Course Volume III. This one is not widely available, but you can order it online from the Unity Woods website. It has excellent, comprehensive instruction for many of the poses I’ve listed above.
Gaiam’s Yoga for Flexibility with Patricia Walden has a 30 minute forward bending practice.
Gaiam’s Yoga for Energy with Rodney Yee has a forward bend segment that I like a lot. It has no form instruction, like the rest of the video, but it’s nice when you just want a calming forward bend practice.
Yoga Journal’s Step-by-step, Volume II has some detailed forward bend instruction.
Here are a few articles on forward bends:
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) by Erich Schiffmann
Ease on Back by Julie Gudmestad
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) by Barbara Benagh
Tips for Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend) and Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Bend) by Cyndi Lee
Hips Too Tight? By Judith Lasater
Working on Standing Forward Bend by Roger Cole
If anyone is looking for me this month. I'll be in a forward bend.