Last week we wrote about back bending or opening the front of the body. This week we will go in the opposite direction with Standing Forward Fold, the sixth position of the Daily Dozen. Where postures that open the front of the body are energizing and stimulate the nervous system, postures that fold forward or open the back of the body are calming and soothing to the nervous system. Now you may be looking at this position and saying, SHE looks comfortable but try doing that in MY body…soothing is NOT a word that comes to mind. OK, we got it…and that’s why we put out this kind of info. Below we’ll share the details from the benefits, to how to perform the pose, and for folks who find it uncomfortable we have some easy ways to modify the position.
First, the benefits:
• Entire back of the body is stretched.
• Releases neck compression.
• Refines spinal extension.
• Stretches the calves and hamstrings.
• Calms the mind, pulls focus inward.
Now the basics for getting into the pose. Follow the steps below:
• Place feet 6-12 inches apart; keep feet parallel and knees slightly bent. Hang over the legs.
• Extend hands for the ground; relax the neck by tucking in the chin.
• Inhale to extend the spine moving the chest away from the belly towards the knees.
• Exhale and hang. Keep big toes, pinky toes, and heels down.
Hang for 6-10 slow long breaths.
Now let’s take a look at a common pitfall. Pictured below.
Look for the info in ALL CAPS to help PREVENT SAID PITFALL.
1) Legs locked / Hollow body reach / Chin forward
The legs locked out with a rounded spine tends to stress the low back, the chin jutting forward can strain the neck, and the middle back is left concave with the chest getting sucked in towards the shoulder blades. You can actually gain more extension through the back of the body by bending legs. Then you can create length through the spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head. This positioning helps to support the low back, rather than strain it, widens the space across the chest and brings the neck & head into a more neutral alignment. BEND YOUR KNEES (if already bent, bend a bit more) AND (inhale) PRESS DOWN WITH YOUR HANDS ON YOUR SHINS TO HELP EXTEND THE UNDERNEATH SIDE OF THE BELLY AND RIBS FORWARDS. KEEP THE PUBIC BONE MOVING AWAY FROM YOUR BELLY. (exhale) HANG CHEST TOWARDS SHINS; DANGLING HEAD AND ARMS.
For those of you that need a modification for this position, here are a few ways to do it.
1) Bend the knees. Instead of working on straightening your legs, bend your knees and concentrate on lengthening your back.
2) Hands on shins. More efficient back extension.
3) Forearms on thighs. Super tight hamstrings.
4) Legs wide. good for injured hamstring or low back, or a large belly.
An example of number 1 is below.
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