THE STANDING FORWARD BEND: PĀDA-HASTĀSANA
Gives many of the same benefits as the Forward Bend. It is the first of the standing poses. In light of the expression “you are as young as your spine,” the Standing Forward Bend is a veritable elixir of youth. Its practice promotes a continued youthful vigor throughout life.
If you notice that your legs are stiff from too much sitting on chairs, practice this Standing Forward Bend. Using the pull of gravity, this pose quickly lengthens the muscles and ligaments of the entire posterior side of your body – from your heels to the middle of your back. It also prepares you for the next āsana, Triangle.
• Restores flexibility to the back of the body, alleviating muscular tension in the back.
• Corrects exaggerated lower back curve.
• Massages all abdominal organs, especially the liver and spleen. Improves digestion. Intestines are regulated, peristalsis increased and constipation combated.
• It helps to regulate pancreatic functions, which control carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels, making it valuable for diabetes patients and people with hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
• The entire nervous system is invigorated.
• The mobility of the joints is enhanced, the spine becomes elastic and a youthful body is maintained.
• Regular practice helps to prevent compression of the spine and sciatica (pain along course of sciatic nerve, esp. in leg).
• It stretches the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your upper legs), lumbar and sacral regions, improves postural alignment and reduces nervous tension in the body.
• The mind is calmed.
• This pose requires conscious control to align toes, knees, and neck correctly, and conscious letting go, by allowing gravity to pull the spine into the pose. Achieving control with detachment is a benefit that can be applied to daily life, as well as in the practice of meditation.