Forward folds can be tricky. Many times students aren’t sure if they should keep their legs straight or their back straight; should they be exhaling or inhaling; where should they turn their gaze; wait, what pose is this again?! Forward folds are a great way to stretch your hamstrings with a focus on lengthening your torso (keeping a flat back). Use these tips to help you get more from this pose:
Start in mountain pose (tadasana). You can have your big toes touching with a small space between your heels OR you can have your feet hip with distance apart (typically two fists distance between your feet). It’s all about what make YOU feel most stable.
Exhale as you fold forward; hinging at your hips rather than rounding through your back.
Bring your finger tips to the mat, just to the outside of your feet and slightly in front of them. If you can keep your legs straight here, awesome! Focus on your breath and continuing to lengthen your torso as you bring your chest closer toward your thighs. If you can’t bring your fingers to the mat with your legs straight, don’t sweat it! Keep your back straight and bring a bend into your knees until your fingers are on the mat. It may be a small bend or a big bend…all that matters is what feels best for your body! With a bend in your legs, lengthen through your torso as your chest works toward your thighs.
Whether your legs are straight or bent, keep your spine long (back flat) and head in a neutral position.
The picture above shows Natalie with straighter legs (nope, not entirely straight yet!) and the bottom picture shows an example of legs more bent. We can’t say this enough - each pose in your practice is a process, just like it is for us!