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F is for Forward Bends

F is for Forward Bends

Forwards Bends are a big part of yoga practice.  They have so many wonderful benefits, from stretching the muscles in the entire back of the body, to lengthening the spine, calming the nervous system, and even encouraging the mind to turn further inward.
 
Forward Bends can be done seated or standing, and there are a huge variety with many variations.  Child’s Pose is a favorite of many for its physical and emotionally restorative effects.  Standing forward bends are a huge reoccurring focus in classes practicing Sun Salutations.  And seated forward bends are an excellent way to still, lengthen and calm the body toward the end of practice as you prepare for savasana. 

The main challenge of forward folds (in general) is the effort it takes to lengthen the hamstrings and to allow the body to fold from the hip crease.  Remember, it is not necessary to have straight legs in forward bends in order to feel its effects.  In fact a slight bend at the knees can be beneficial to tight hamstrings, the alignment of the spine and allow you to fold from the hip crease with greater ease, therefore allowing the low back to lengthen.  

Also remember,it is not the goal to reach the fingers to the mat.  Feel free to place a block or two in front of your toes, reaching toward the block so you feel supported versus strained.  As always, breath should be steady and flowing comfortably, and practice with a qualified teacher for alignment feedback.

What forward folds are you favorite to practice?

(This is part of a series of blog installments for the A to Z Challenge.  I will be covering each letter of the alphabet as it applies to the practice of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry.)

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