Written by Nora Benian
Paschimottanasana – Standing Forward Bend
Paschimottanasana is a posture that symbolizes bowing to the powerful, life giving sun. It offers us an opportunity to thank the source of life for all its splendour and nourishment. This pose helps you to feel humble and hopeful. It helps one to connect with the earth as well since both hands and feet to reach for earth energy. After all it is the sun that provides the earth with the power to produce our sustenance. So we are actually thanking them both at the same time, mentally by bowing and physically/energetically by touching and connecting.
When I get into a standing forward bend I feel like I’m folding into myself and turning my world upside down, seeing things from the flip side. In this pose I’m looking up at the clouds and taking a break from the pressures of life. With my head pulled down by gravity and the spine along with it, I get a relief from the pressure of the vertebra pressing upon the next. Like finally my nerves can transmit without any obstructions or irritations (feedback). Which in turn allows for calming in the nervous system and brain. With a rush of blood to the head my brain cells are being flooded with nourishment and oxygen to feed the overworked brain. Since oxygen feeds the cells, the cell become happy and satisfied that they have what they need to perform your demands. This relaxes the nervous system and calms the mind inspiring a more meditative perspective and peaceful state. A state in which is most ideal to make decisions from or help to see things more correctly.
The breath can be the most helpful tool in helping the body release tension. Firstly, more oxygen means more relaxation to cells. Secondly, breathing deeply expands the rib cage, lungs and muscles surrounding them offering further release and opening. Flushing out held energy and toxins from these tissues can be an even greater relief from tension than the more obvious and eventual hamstring, low back release.
Of course all of this requires us to bravely dive forward knowing that there will be discomfort in the hamstrings, low back and maybe even the neck or feet. But It is a path of energy flow and fascia network that continues to tighten up with age, worry, fear, anger and lack of movement. So one would be wise to just do it! At least once a day, better yet many times a day. As a matter of fact holding it for several minutes without moving and see what magic that holds for you. Once experienced in this way you will certainly be more willing to do it again soon.
Don’t let your body’s discomfort doesn’t prevent you from living fully and fulfilling your dharma.
Bend over and feel the rush of blood to the head.