This post could stir the pot a little and maybe even cause a wee Yoga uproar. Believe it or not, Yogis just like everyone else can be pretty attached to ‘their way’ of practicing being the ‘right way’.
So if you are a Yoga teacher or a long time practicing Yogini and you are reading this, I encourage you to keep an open mind on this and try it out for yourself.
My first 300-hour teacher training was taught almost exclusively by Iyengar teachers, and it was such an amazing training, as it had such a diverse group of seasoned teachers. In addition to our traditional Asana training, it included a strong therapeutic foundation, as well as a good degree of Restorative Yoga training.
I’m so grateful for that foundation and I look back on those days with such a fondness and reverence for my teachers. During my time in the Iyengar circles it was drilled into us that all forward bends should be practiced with a flat back period, no questions asked.
A couple of years after graduating I discovered the work of Paul Grilley. I felt like the anatomy training I had in my teacher training barely scratched the surface and so I bought Paul’s Anatomy For Yoga DVD as a means of extra self-study. Needless to say, this DVD literally pulled the Yoga Mat out from under me! So much of what I had learned didn’t ring true and for the first time what was happening in my body made sense. That DVD changed the way I saw my body and my student’s bodies forever (and for the better).
Before studying with Paul I had never considered that someone could choose to practice a forward bend with a rounded spine or what the benefits of that might be (let alone how good it feels). Now I alternate practicing with a flat spine and a rounded spine depending on my needs and intentions at the time.
In the video, I’ll go over this in more detail including why one might choose whether or not to let their back round in a forward bend.
Please note: If you have bulging or herniated disks it may not be a good idea for you to round your spine in a forward bend so please check with your health care practitioner before attempting this video.
Here’s to happy hamstrings and spines!