Forward folds are one of the most important and wholesome group of asanas. They are a sort of all-rounders in terms of the benefits they offer; from physical to physiological to psychological.
Physically, the most visible benefit of forward folds is the comprehensive opening up of the entire backside of the body. For example, Pashimottanasana stretches the heels, calves, hamstrings, hips, lower back, upper back, and shoulders! Forward folds are a go-to pose if you want to release tension in your neck, upper or lower back.
Physiologically, they massage abdominal organs like the kidneys, intestines and pancreas thereby improving digestion and kicking up metabolism. They also increase blood flow to the pelvic region making them an excellent pose for menstrual pains, post-partum healing and menopause. Increased circulation to the uterus can also help with infertility, impotence, and sex drive.
Forward bends take us into our past, giving us opportunities to introspect and resolve deep psychological issues which over time have become lodged in the joints, muscles, organs and other tissues of our bodies. They activate the second chakra – swadhishthana chakra – located at the level of the sacrum, pelvis, hips and groin. Swadhishthana chakra corresponds to our relationships with our children, and with our romantic and business partners. When we practice forward bends, we are often confronted with past karmas relating to these people. These karmas result in physical and emotional restrictions that can hold us back from fully expressing our creativity and sexuality. By noting the sensations and emotions that arise during forward bending without judging, denying or running away from them, we purify the second chakra. Forward bending offers a chance to reflect on and heal the past, leaving you free to move forward effortlessly into the future.