The Forward Fold is a pose that you come across all the time. Not just in yoga, but in all sorts of physical practices including simple stretching to warm up for a run in the park. So why not spice up this wonderful pose and put some variation into it?
Forward Fold Step-By-Step
- Stand with your feet hip width apart with your toes active and spread and your heels lined up with the front of your foot. Tip: if you need to measure, make two fists and place them between the arches on your feet. For most, this is approximately hip width.
- Bend your knees a lot but be sure to keep the knee joint over your ankles to build strength and stability.
- If it’s your first few forward folds or if you are especially sensitive here take care + work with a bent knee. As time progresses and your body opens, begin to deepen the pose by lifting in the hips up and away from the floor instead of pressing back through the knee joint (yikes, hyperextension!).
- Allow your hands to come down towards a block, the mat, or pick a variation below.
Forward Fold Variations Galore
Finger-paint – From your forward fold let your fingertips come down to the mat (bend as much as you need here) and then begin to work your hands side to side in a finger-painting motion. Wake up your hamstrings, hips, and shoulders.
Frame your face – Grab opposite elbow and frame your face with your forearms in front of your forehead. When you switch to the opposite arm on top try a slightly different variation, by framing the back of your head.
The great graspy – From standing or from a forward fold, reach behind your back to grab a strap or your palms. As you work your way into your forward fold, begin to externally rotate your shoulders open to create space in your chest and relieve tightness in your shoulders and back. Make sure you switch!
Rag doll – Let. It. All. Hang. Get as light as you can through the upper body and begin to create a shelf for your torso to rest on your quads. Allow your hands to fall to the mat and your shoulders to release.
Head hold – If you have no upper back or neck issues, interlace your hands and place them on the top of your spine/neck. Work your elbows together and down towards the floor as you fold. The tendency here is to tighten up in the upper body, but allow gravity to do its work.
Forward folds are a fantastic opportunity to come into your breath and turn your attention inward. These variations are a fantastic way to liven up the beginning, middle, or end of your yoga practice.