The forward bend yoga pose is a popular and highly effective yoga movement that promotes added flexibility to your hips and legs.
Having flexible hips and legs are important in order to progress into many other yoga poses. Many poses offer the twisting and turning that can also be useful for lower body stretching. Forward bend poses are often used in a slow paced Hatha Class with some stretching, breathing, and seated meditation poses.
This can be a good place to learn beginner poses and become comfortable with yoga. There are different variations of forward folds (seated and standing) and they all have their own benefits.
Standing Forward Bend Yoga Pose
This is the perfect pose for opening your hips and hamstrings while relaxing your mind. It is an important part of the sun salutations to help stretch and warm up the body for some deeper poses you might attempt through the yoga session.
Take a deep breath and raise your arms overhead, exhale and slowly bend forward at your hips, make sure the bend comes from your hips and not from your back. Bend down to where your hands are able to rest on the mat or on your feet or legs.
Press your heels down, move your chest in toward your knees, and let your head move toward your feet.
Hold the Forward bend pose for 30 seconds, take a deep breath and slowly return to your starting position.
Taylor Demonstrating the Standing Forward Bend Pose
For beginners, bend your knees if needed so that you can place your palms flat on your mat.
Hold each pose for at least 30 seconds or else you will not get the benefits of the stretch.
Heated classes are great for forward bends because the higher temperature warms your muscles quickly making it easier to go deeper into the stretch. It is important to remember in almost all forward folds to keep a micro-bend in the knees. Locking your knees or hyperextending them will result in knee injury.
Seated Forward Bend Yoga Pose
The Seated forward bend is a relaxing pose that helps to relieve stress as it opens your hip and leg joints and muscles. The best time to practice this pose is in the middle or later in the class when your muscles are warm. This is a good "stepping stone" pose to lead you into deeper bending poses.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Raise your arms out to your sides and up over your head and begin to bend at your hips pulling yourself down toward your legs.
When you feel tension and can only go lower by bending your back, lightly hold your calves or feet and slowly stretch lower. Make sure you keep your neck and back in a straight line.
After 30-45 seconds slowly raise your arms and your body back to your starting position.
Don't forcefully pull yourself all the way down. This can be a challenging yoga pose especially if you have tight hamstrings. Give your leg muscles time to loosen up and lengthen.
When beginning any yoga body bending poses, only go as far as is comfortable. It is not crucial to touch your toes at any point in yoga. Everyone’s bodies are different and we all have different levels of flexibility.
It is important to be patient and give your body the time to loosen up. Many of us have spent a lot of time sitting at a desk allowing our muscles and joints to get tighter and tighter. Be patient with your forward bends and the flexibility will come with time.
Forward Bend Pose Benefits
There are many benefits of the standing and sitting forward bend poses.
The Forward bend yoga movement stretches the back of your body from your feet and calves up through your neck and shoulders. This can create an inner calm for many individuals.
These poses can stimulate your circulation and improve your digestion and metabolism.
Calming poses like the Forward bend can help with headaches, stress, anxiety, and even mild depression.
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