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Forward bends for experienced students

Contents

Introduction

This sequence aims to take the experienced student through a wide range of forward bends in what could be called a ‘classical’ progression.

Forward bends bring life to the hips, knees and upper back and neck, and they also calm the nervous system and lead us into a reflective, quiet state of mind. Each pose brings us deeper into mental stillness as we go through the session, even as it works quite strongly into the hips, knees, and upper back.

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Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Handstand
Open your hands into the floor and strengthen your arms as you lift your body up, one leg at a time, into an inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary. If pushing yourself up proves to be too difficult, you can walk your feet up the wall.
Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Pincha Mayurasana
Feathered Peacock Pose
Spread your weight evenly across your forearms, activate your shoulders, and lengthen your spine as you lift yourself into this inverted balance. Use wall support if needed. You can also wrap a belt around your arms to keep them steady.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Utthita Trikonasana
Extended Triangle Pose
Keep the toes and kneecap of your left leg pointed forward and, keeping your spine straight and long, stretch over your leg. Place your left hand on your ankle or on a block next to your foot. Look up towards your extended right arm.
Parsvottanasana
Pyramid Pose
Place your feet one leg-length apart, your back foot angled out slightly. Keep your legs straight as you start to fold over your front leg, maintaining a concave spine for as far into the bend as possible.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Head Down)
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Plant your feet as wide apart as you can. Place your hands on the floor and lengthen forward through your spine. Once you have achieved the concave spine, start to walk your hands backward to capacity, aiming to lengthen and release your spine as evenly as possible.
Salamba Sirsasana Wall Support
Headstand 1
Activate your shoulders and upper back muscles as you lift your body up into inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary.
Parsvaikapada Sirsasana
One-Legged Headstand Pose
Start in Sirsasana and bring one leg down to the floor. The other leg stays lifted and steady.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Janu Sirsasana
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Bend your knee out to the side and keep your sit-bones pointing downward as you stretch out over your extended leg. Use a belt if necessary.
Forward bends for experienced students
Half Bound Lotus Forward Fold
Start in Dandasana. Bend your left knee and place the foot onto your thigh right thigh-crease. Reach your left hand behind your back to grab hold of your big toe. Pull your abdomen in, reach forward, and grab your right foot with your right hand. Change sides and repeat.
Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana
Three-Limbed Forward Bend
Bend your left knee so your foot points straight back as you extend your right leg forward. Release your spine as you reach out to grab a hold of your extended foot. Use a belt if necessary. Repeat on both sides.
Forward bends for experienced students
Heron Pose
Start in Dandasana. Bend one leg back into Virasana. Extend the other leg upward, so that, ideally, your shin joins your head. Use a belt if necessary.
Forward bends for experienced students
Double Toe Hold
Start in a seated position. Bend your knees and grab a hold of your big toes. Extend your legs up and balance yourself on your coccyx to assume a V-shape with your body. Pull your abs in, activate your core, open your chest. If you cannot reach your ankles, use a belt to help you reach your feet.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Paschimottanasana
Seated Forward Bend
Make sure the backs of your legs are pressed firmly to the ground as you bend over to reach your feet. Release the spine. Use a belt if necessary.
Baddha Konasana
Bound Angle Pose
Bring your feet as close as possible to your pelvis and join them together. Straighten your back and let gravity pull your knees down toward the floor. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Upavistha Konasana
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Use support under buttocks if your inner groins roll backward. Kneecaps and all ten toes face the ceiling. Keep your hands by your by hips, fingers pointing forwards. Lengthen your spine. Once you have mastered these foundations, you can also bend forward while reaching your feet with your hands. Use a belt if necessary.
Parsva Upavistha Konasana
Side Seated Wide Angle Pose
Start in Upavistha Konasana. Maintain the position of your legs and buttocks as you release your spine and bend sideways to meet your foot.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Forward bends for experienced students
Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose
Bend your knee as far out to the side as you can and keep your sit-bones pointing downward as you stretch out sideways over your extended leg. Use a belt if necessary.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Forward bends for experienced students
Marichi's Pose III
Sit down with your legs stretched out. Bend your right knee and bring it close into your chest. Hook your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and twist. Repeat on each side.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Forward bends for experienced students
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose I
Starting in seated, bend your right leg in a way that the thigh and side of the calf is pressed to the floor. Take the right foot over to the left buttock. Plant the left foot on the outside of the right buttock. Hook your elbow behind your upward-facing knee and use it as leverage to twist your body to capacity.
Halasana (Arms Extended)
Half Plough Pose
Activate your shoulders as you lift your hips up overhead and place your feet on chair support behind your head.
Sarvangasana
Shoulderstand
Activate your arms and shoulders as you lift your body up perpendicular to the floor. Use blankets or bolsters to support your shoulders. Make sure the back of your neck stays relaxed and maintains its natural curve.
Halasana
Plough Pose
Use support under your shoulders. Keeping your shoulders open, lift your hips up high above your head, dropping your feet down behind you. Place your hands on your back to help keep it from rounding.
Forward bends for experienced students
Reclining Angle Pose
Start in Halasana or Sarvangasana. Feet go down on the floor behind your head. Walk your feet outwards in opposite directions to capacity.
Forward bends for experienced students
Ear Pressure Pose
Start with your hips raised high over your head (in Halasana), your shoulders resting on the floor, or some blankets, your legs stretched out behind your head. Bend your knees and bring your thighs down so they are positioned on either side of your head. Breathe and feel your lower back release.
Lying Back Over Bricks Step 2
Place support under your back and lie down with your legs bent.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.