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Forward bend, back curve

dlanglais2010-07-05 08:24:17 +0000 #1
I have been working on my forward bend but I find that my back curves too much compared to what I have seen instructors do... Are there some exercises I can do to improve my forward bend?
CherryRed2010-07-05 08:40:36 +0000 #2
I'm not an instructor, but I've been a student for a while. Maybe I can help.

How you enter into your forward bend is important. Make sure you start with a straight back. Extend your back as long as you can, as though a string attached to the crown of your head is pulling your spine straight up to the ceiling. When you are ready to fold forward, do not lose the length in your spine.

Try to hinge from the hips rather than bending at the waist. This will ensure that your lower back does not curve as much. Try to keep your back as long and straight as you can for most of the fold forward (go down slowly if need be, lengthening your spine on inhales and folding further on exhales). Once you've gone as far as your body will let you, relax into the forward bend. You should be properly aligned so that your back is relatively straight rather than hunched.

If you already have a good forward bend, another tip is to focus on getting your legs and chest as close together as you can. The way I've been taught to do this is by coming into a bend and relaxing there for a few breaths to open everything up. Then I bend my knees, wrap my arms around behind my calves, and hold onto the backs of my heels (elbows behind knees, fingers under heels, thumbs facing out). It's important to have your entire torso resting on your thighs. Now, keeping your torso where it is, straighten your legs. It'll be difficult at first but eventually you'll be able to return to this alignment with little effort.

Does this answer your question at all? How experienced are you with yoga?
InnerAthlete2010-07-05 08:35:50 +0000 #3
This is typically an issue with mobility in the pelvis and very tight hamstrings (or a lack of "openess"). And the two are related as the hamstrings attach to the sitting bones (ishial tuberosities) and back of the knee (tibia and fibula). When the student folds and the hamstrings are tight the fold must go somewhere because the pelvis is locked down by the hamstrings. In fact the hamstrings encourage the pelvis to go with them in the opposite direction of the fold which places added strain on the Sacrum and Sacro-iliac joint (SI). Therefore the fold goes into the back (unless the knees are bent).

So the primary way to begin properly (safely) accessing forward bends is to open up the hamstrings. Supta Padangusthasana with a strap is the recommended pose. It can be complemented with Parivrrta Supta Padangusthasana (strap) and Parsva Supta Padangusthasana (strap), though these two work the adductors and abductors also.

Over time, I said OVER TIME, the hamstrings will begin to open. If you're anxious for "accomplishment" do these poses twice a day. At the end of a year's time you should be catching the toe and no longer need the belt. A forward bend with more integrity will come well before that.

The length of the spine in forward bends is not to be dismissed. Rather than thinking of a straight spine (which it is not as the spine naturally has three curves in order to bear body weight) or lengthing the back, think of keeping length in the front body. The aspiration of the spine upward is appropriate.

Also keep in mind you may be viewing instructors who do not have the appropriate alignment. They may be very supple which is fine but as more yoga teachers flood into the market with an 18 hour weekend of training, the demo itself gets watered down. this absolutely may NOT be the case in your situation. But it must be considered as you're using it to determine your own alignment. In some poses the spine DOES round even for the student that can maintain a neutral spine.
dlanglais2010-07-05 09:36:32 +0000 #4
Thank you for your replies. I am not sure I understood the second one since it was very technical. I think that the idea is to stretch my string often so I can reach forward. The whole strap thing was very murky to me.

To answer the question about my experience with Yoga, I would say about 5 to 6 years on and off. I tend to do more power yoga and anything else. Now I am looking more into doing a few pose as perfectly as possible. Flexibility is a big goal of mine.

Thanks again.
InnerAthlete2010-07-05 08:44:14 +0000 #5
Yes then let me simplify my response.

-Your forward bend is "perfect" just as it is.

-Outward perfection and accomplishment lead to an agressive, aggravating, injury riddled practice. Very little "Yoga" is possible in such conditions.

-Take height under your sitting bones for forward bends.

-Work to open your hamstrings

-Be patient.

-Enjoy the journey

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