Most people find forward bending asanas reasonably difficult. This is because their backs have lost their flexibility through lack of exercise. This flexibility is most important, for it keeps the spinal column and associated nerves in the best possible condition. In fact, a flexible spine is often a clear indicator of good health, while a rigid spine often signifies poor health. This is illustrated in the case of children, who generally radiate abundant energy and good health, and who find forward bending asanas very simple. Of course, there are many other reasons for their wonderful health, but a supple spine is a contributing factor.
If a person takes sufficient exercise, then the spine will automatically remain flexible. The problem of stiffness and rigidity of the spine only arises with sedentary life, where people don’t use their bodies enough. Probably any person who belongs to one of the more primitive tribes in the world would be able to do forward bending asanas without the slightest hesitation or difficulty. People who live close to nature keep their bodies flexible and healthy because of their active way of life. Modern man must find other methods of maintaining health and exercising his body. One method is to do asanas, including forward bending poses, on a regular basis.
The forward bending asana we will describe here is called paschimottanasana. It is one of the best of all asanas.