“Touching the Toes” is one act, many perform smilingly to show their flexibility. The other lot, (of course the stiffer one), covet for this touch so much so  that being able to do so becomes one of their primary goals for joining Yoga. ‘Touching the toes’ however, is just a tiny aspect of the bigger picture. Performing this while paying attention to the minutest of details and technique is bound to reveal other dimensions of performing this posture.

Forward bend allows the extension to the posterior part of the body by releasing the stiffness from Plantar Fascia, Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Hamstrings, Hip Rotators & Erector Spiane. This chain of stretches automatically releases the stiffness from your lower back which is a common complaint amongst the maximum of the population, be it an athlete or an office goer. Practicing ‘Forward Bend’ postures can definitely help protect & rejuvenate the health of your lower part of back.

Types of Forward Bends

People mostly think of standing and sitting forward bends as the only forward bends but certain asanas performed lying down on back  also fall in the category of ‘Forward Bend.’ Hence, forward bend can be performed in three different ways:

• While standing  $\rightarrow$ Uttanasana
• While sitting $\rightarrow$ Paschimottanasana
• While lying down on the back $\rightarrow$ Halasana

Over rounding of the back

Rounding of the back is common among many during a forward bend, even among, the ones who are able to touch their toes.  There could be few obvious reasons for this:

• The primary one being tight glutes & hamstrings which do not allow the lengthening of the posterior part of your body. To counter this tightness, one tries to push one’s body forward by rounding one’s back as it becomes easier to do so.
• Connective tissues of the posterior part of your body are tight
• You dropped your head down from the very beginning of the posture which then restricts the range of the motion

Right Initiation – The Foundation of Forward Bend

Irrespective of flexibility, initiating a forward bend in the right manner will work on foundational development of the posture. It will not only prevent injuries which are common due to the forced movement (due to lack of flexibility in the hips & the calves and overuse of other parts) but also will add optimal benefits to your current state of health.

The hips & the spine play a pivotal role while performing forward bends. Understanding their dominant roles and switching of the roles at different stages of performance is what makes all the difference.

Let us take an example of (video) – a sitting forward bend. You sit with your legs stretched out in front; your heels are sliding out & toes are flexing in; hips are grounded to the floor. This first movement fixes the underside of your legs to the floor as if locking it into position, thereby, allowing the enhancement of the next movement.

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