Forward Fold or Forward Bend Poses are one of the “must-do” poses in a yoga class. Yet many of us can do it better and safer. So, during our teacher training we enter the forward folds slowly and step by step to ensure the safety of our spines.
What is a Forward Fold Poses?
Technically speaking, this is when we put our spine on flexion range of movement. There are two ways to do this, by standing and on seated position. So, there are a lot of variations, for example legs together in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold) or legs apart in Prasarita Paddotanasana (Wide Leggged Forward Fold). Then another variation of this pose done in a seated position ranges from Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) to Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Fold).
The benefits of Forward Folds
Forward Folds stretches the whole back side of the body and strengthening it, and then simultaneously calming and soothing our mind – activating the parasympathetic nervous system, thus providing rest and repair moment.
Why do we have to enter it safely?
Like every pose, when we move our body either stretching it or strengthening it, we need to move carefully as there is always risk of injuries. In Forward Folds, the most common ones are over stretching the hamstrings. Here are a few tips to be able to get the benefit of this pose safely.
Tip 1 : Lengthening your spine first
Before any bends, inhale and then lengthen your spine. Imagine that there is a string on the top of your head and it lifts you up lengthening the spines. Pay attention on the lower back or the lumbar spine
Tip 2 : Fold from the hips and keep the spine straight when folding
A very common misalignment is that yogi folds from the lower back and rounding their back. Although the lower back also needs stretching, entering the pose by folding from the hips will be much safer and healthier to the lower back and to the whole spine. Keep the spine straight during the bend.
Tip 3 : Protect your leg muscles
Micro bend the knees and put more weight on the ball of the feet when standing. If you are doing seated forward fold, remember to dorsiflex the toes and lift the kneecaps during the bend. This will stretch the muscles but safely so it would be not over stretched.
Tip 4 : Gradually melt deeper
Relaxation Reflex is one of the spine reflexes which is an automatic response to a stimulus mediated by the spinal cord. This Relaxation Reflex especially created when the muscle relaxes after it has been lengthened for a period of time. So, taking this into account, when we do Forward Fold we can gradually melt deeper. On every inhale, lengthen your spine. Then on every exhale, lean slightly deeper. Take your time.
Tip 5 : Release slowly
As careful as we enter the pose, we should exit the pose carefully as well. When on seated position, slowly walk your hands towards your body, lifting the straight spine back on top of the hips. While on standing, remember to lengthen first, and come up with the straight spine using the core muscle.
Apply these tips in your next asana class, and we wish you a rewarding forward fold sessions!