This is a great pose to calm the mind, while actively stretching and strengthening the muscles in your inner and back legs. It also stretches the spine relieving mild back pain.
Never force yourself into this pose, let gravity do the job :-)
Be careful if you suffer from lower back pain, especially if this is the result of over-stretching muscles in that area.
If you aren't able to easily touch the crown of your head to the floor in the last stage of this forward bend, you can support your head on a block padded with a folded blanket, or a pile of cushions.
While your legs are challenged to be strong, steady, and well rooted, the heart and head are soothed and calmed. It's therefore no surprise that this asana is often used as a balm for frayed or anxious nerves.
This pose is an inversion, and shares many of the health benefits of inverted poses:
our head clears with the increased blood supply, improving our mental stability and concentration, defeating lethargy and a tired body.
Inverted poses also balance the hormones of the body, bringing a fresh supply of blood to the thyroid and parathyroid glands, the pituitary and pineal glands.
Anti-gravity clears toxins from the tissues, cleansing and nourishing, and improves circulation. Because the heart must pump stronger, they also have an aerobic affect.
A word of caution, it is not recommended to practice inversions while suffering from headaches.
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) take your feet apart (anywhere from 3 to 4 1/2 feet depending on your height).
Rest your hands on your hips. Make sure your inner feet are parallel to each other.
Lift your inner arches by drawing up on the inner ankles, and press the outer edges of your feet and ball of the big toe firmly into the floor. Engage the thigh muscles by drawing them up.
Before bending forward (folding from the hips, never the waist) inhale and stretch your torso and arms upward. Your chest will feel expansive, your heart uplifted, and your front spine long.
Maintain this feeling as you exhale and bend forward.
If you can comfortably reach your hands down to the floor while still keeping your front spine long and supple, place both hands onto the ground directly beneath your shoulders, with fingers facing forward.
If the ground is too far away, place two blocks or a chair on the floor in front of you and rest your hands there.
Bend your elbows and let your head reach effortlessly for the space between your hands.
To come out of the pose, place your hands on your hips and then root strongly through your feet, as your tail swoops toward the ground and your heart lifts to bring you to standing on an exhalation.