Yoga is the practice of generosity. Generosity outward and generosity toward ourselves. This blog is my attempt to share a breakthrough in Paschimotanasan (seated forward-bend). This same breakthrough is available in any posture and for some people forward-bending is not hard work. If you can already forward bend for England and you enjoy that road, then please apply the following principles to a posture that seems hard and stuck and then in that area you can have a breakthrough.
The startling beauty of yoga is that we get to deal with ourselves. We are all comprised mainly of fluid. Some people feel more 'fluidic' than others but our composition is roughly the same. For the sake of finding out something different about your forward-bending and your self - I invite you to take this journey with me:
Go get a mat or find somewhere comfortable, eliminating distractions as best you can. Sit with your legs straight out in front and be content. This is your forward bend right now and you can be happy. If you feel yourself leaning backwards instead of forward then relax into that and allow your legs to fall open if they need to.
It may also help to place your head in your hands. I use this to settle myself and become aware of my skin. See below.
All of us have fascia which covers our entire body and it is one piece. What this means is that a hold-up or a sense of being knotted or inflexible - if it is there - can be addressed from any part. Just imagine a beautiful bag containing all your bones and all your muscles. You have this beautiful bag and somewhere it may have tightened. The intelligence in softening the fascia is that she/he is one organ so there is a direct connection to everywhere and when you soften one area that softening spreads across. This isn't just words and please test it.
For example, if you can feel your heel relax and then relax that heel more, your inner thigh and brow will respond also. Breathe now into an area of yourself that you are attracted to - in the picture below I am breathing into the soft ease of my arms. Go right to the skin of where you are feeling and then let that feeling spread.
This is your forward-bend in her or his full glory. How much you move is not important. It is the quality of the posture. Open your mouth to increase your freedom. As I move deeper I instinctively upturn my arms (see below). In most yogic philosophies forward-bending is about surrender. Forward-bending is surrender and back-bending is opening your heart. We don't give a lot of air time to surrender in our culture and it is a supreme practice.
Keep surrendering. Doing this changes the state of your tissues and it makes something else possible. I include the below photograph not to suggest that it is better to fold further forward - or less - but rather to show one expression of surrender as a feeling.
Notice the tension in your body and go back to the areas of softness. Become one with the area or areas of softness. Inhabit her or him fully. Let that feeling spread and spread. In the below photograph I am softening my arms and resting my shoulders down continuously because this is where I feel most able to release. The fascia covering the arms is intimately connected to the crown of the head and the soles of the feet.
I keep softening. Softening is the same as gravitating downward (dropping the weight of the body) or melting (nothing solid) and giving up (more surrender) or giving away (old wisdom we didn't know we had).
Come out of the posture slowly and notice any difference without getting too attached to the result - see below. Surrender is also an acceptance of what is - and what isn't.