Forward bends can be done both sitting AND standing. Forward bends create length in the spine, relieve any compression, and can promote introspection.
But, tight hamstrings and physical patterns, such as rounded shoulders (hello, sitting in front of a computer for hours! check out some great info on “un-rounding” your shoulders HERE) can make forward bends challenging!
Forward bends also provide us an opportunity to break these patterns: a fresh perspective!
Senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Cristie Newhart shares these tips for getting the most out of your forward folds:
Alignment is key.
- The action of forward bends, is to fold at the hip crease, bringing the top of the pelvis forward.
- Also, think about lengthening the front of the body as you fold, keeping the neck and jaw relaxed, and engage the quadriceps so that the muscles around the knee are stabilized and protected. Use the support of the abdominal muscles below the navel allow for greater flexibility in the lumbar spine. And, until the hamstrings are sufficiently open, Cristie says that it’s best to practice forward bends with a slight bend in the knees.
Props are your friends.
- Standing: Use blocks to help you lengthen your spine if your hands don’t reach the floor easily.
- Seated: Place a folded blanked, cushion or bolster under your seat to tilt your pelvis forward. Grab a strap (belt, tie, towel!) to help reach your feet.
- Use props to prevent over-rounding the back, release tense shoulders, and ease locked knees.
Don’t force it.
- Forward bends are not about how deep you can go but rather how deeply you can release. Less is more.
- Surrender to the present moment, notice the experience, and settle into the breath. As Cristie reminds us, “Honor the body where it’s at—let it unfold at its own pace.”
So, fold inward and find introspection and release. Much love.