I love all the asanas so much that I believe it would be unfair or impossible for me to pick just one as a favorite. The benefits from each of these asanas would count on being another story altogether. Yes, I want to experience it all.
When it comes to Yoga Anatomy, for me it’s very interesting to dissect one particular asana – PASCHIMOTTANASANA. This pose teaches us the important lesson of surrendering. It is one of the most basic postures of yoga; the seated forward bend. In this posture, the back side of your entire body is stretched, from your head, all the way through your heels. It stimulates the Manipura Chakra (lighting up the fire within) and balances the Prana within your body. It also calms the mind and helps improve concentration, reduces obesity and is known to cure various diseases.
Besides stretching your entire posterior, this posture helps elongate spine, increases flexibility in the hip joints, tones the abdominal and pelvic region, massaging internal organs such as liver, pancreas, kidneys, spleen and adrenal glands, eliminates disorders of the reproductive and urinary system, stimulates blood circulation to the spinal nerves and muscles and enhances the Swadhishtana Chakra.
I used to be petrified of this asana, particularly because my torso was pretty short in comparison to my longer legs. How will I ever be able to bend and bring my torso over my thighs and lengthen enough to even touch my toe!? The answer to that dilemma was PRACTICE. I started off with being able to reach just up to the middle of my shin and now I can go much further, but not enough to grab my wrist from beyond my feet. I’m sure I will get there not too long from now with consistent practice.
In this pose, the most vital point is to let go and breathe once your are at your optimum stretch, to allow gravity help you move deeper in to the asana. We also have to make note to keep going a little beyond our comfort zone each time but always making sure never to force our self too much, avoiding injuries. If the hamstrings are too tight, hip flexion is restricted. Bending the knee a little can be helpful, as this still allows the spine to move forward, lengthening the hamstrings, but in a less stressful way. It is essential to direct the sensation of the stretch along the length of the whole muscle rather than the muscle attachment point. One must also keep in mind to engage the muscles of internal rotation to maintain neutral alignment; the legs in this position are neither rotated internally or externally. Most of us have tight hamstrings due to our life styles and that is why, this pose is so very important to practice.