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
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
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.)