Not all of us find forward bending easy. Here's a method some may find helpful. Yoga is all about finding what works for and is suitable for each of us.
Generally, when coming into any posture where the body has previously experienced discomfort, the body is likely to anticipate this by tensing the very muscles that we are seeking to stretch. We therefore need to try a different approach.
In last week’s Tuesday morning class, we looked at forward bending over one leg from standing with the legs anything up to a leg's length apart. Students were encouraged not to use their arms to pull themselves into position nor to stay in position for any longer than was comfortable. They were also encouraged to soften the knee of the leg they were coming forward over both to take some of the weight of the trunk through the thigh to release any tension from the lower back and also to release the hamstring as required. Working from standing allows us to use gravity and the weight of the body to come forward. It also makes forward bending easier for those of us whose pelvis would be angled backwards if working from sitting. Students considered how easy or otherwise it was to come down over first one leg and then the other.
We then looked at coming into a rotation, from the same starting position, by bringing the right shoulder down towards the right leg whilst keeping length through the spine and the crown of the head, bringing the left arm softly behind the back and turning the head to look up and back as far as comfortable to encourage the rotation. Again students noticed how easy or otherwise it was to work to each side in turn.
Many people find rotations easier than forward bending and so relax more in a rotation, yet there can be considerable similarities between the two, so transitioning from one into the other can be a surprising effecive way of coming into a forward bend.
Accordingly students were then asked to consider how little they needed to change to transition from a rotation into a forward bend and back again. As before, they spent as little or as long in each position as was comfortable.
At the end David E, a student who finds forward bending very challenging, said, “I was almost starting to enjoy that!”