Forward bends require leg anchoring, hip opening, and lift through the spine. When doing this sequence, focus on bringing these three things together, starting from your foundation, the legs, and moving up through the rest of the body.
After your initial lying back in Supta Baddhakonasana and coming forward in Virasana, observe the legs in Uttanasana, being aware that it is a good starting pose, but also how it is a standing forward bend. Notice how much the legs and hips influence the release of the spine.
Adho Mukha Svanasana on the breath to “get moving” and connect the arms and the legs to the spine, and then Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Full Arm Balance) and Pincha Mayurasana) (or preparation)to get the upper body and shoulders ready for Sirsasana, which comes a little earlier in the sequence than usual. Start with Sirsasana preparation, with a block placed into the upper back as you walk in and hold. Then go up to Sirsasana, or if not doing a full inversion lie back over two blocks to open the chest and release the neck.
Today we move towards forward bends focussing on opening the groins: Supta Padangusthasana 1,2 and 3, and then go to Baddha Konasana, lying back flat, with the feet up onto a brick, to help open the groins a bit more through gravity pull. Then come to sitting Baddha Konasana, and place the belt around the feet and back pelvis as you might do for Supta Baddha Konasana. Notice how when the sacrum is held in, the spine is freer to release, which in turn helps to let the knees drop further down.
Follow on with Upavistha Konasana, first sitting upright and then going forwards to capacity, without disturbing the downward action in the legs and keeping the inner groins moving down towards the floor. Come up and turn to the side in Parsva Upavistha Konasana.
Now for a few more forward bends, using the belt around the extended leg foot and extra height under the buttocks as needed: Janu Sirsasana, Triangmukaikapada Paschimottanasana, Marichyasana 1 and Paschimottanasana. Finish with a twist, Bharadvajasana 1.
Set up for Sarvangasana and Halasana, or Setu Bandha if not going upside down today. Come down and go to Virasana forwards, with hands onto a support to release the upper back, and then set up for Savasana, placing a bolster or blankets over the top thighs to help the legs let go and to quieten the nerves as you observe a soft inhalation and exhalation.
Notice when you come up how open the groins and hips may feel, now and for the next part of the day.
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You are welcome to download the PDF of the sequence and print and distribute it freely. You may have to wait up to 30 seconds for the PDF to generate. Please credit the teacher who created it. All illustrations from Dona Holleman’s ‘Yoga Darśana’, RIMYI Institute texts and Yoga Vastu illustrators for original asana drawings.