As passionate yogis, we believe there’s no better feeling than reaching for your toes! Forward folds are famous for the instant feelings of physical and mental relief they provide. Apart from the physical benefits and deep stretch, forward folds are great for our mental health — you’d be surprised just how much better a bad day can look after a nice, gentle bend! There are lots of variations when it comes to forward folds, and we explore many of them in our PPHY studios. A favourite amongst students (especially newbies) are the seated forward folds, because they are a gentle, simple way of getting that famous ‘folded feeling!’
“I do a seated forward fold (of some variation) every day. I do it while practicing yoga but also before and after my other workouts. It’s an easy, accessible stretch that feels great and can be done anywhere.”
- Stimulates the liver and kidneys
- Improves reproductive function
- Improves digestion
- Helps to relive menopausal symptoms and menstrual pain
- Relieves symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress
- Calms the mind and soothes headaches
- Increases energy
- Helps with disrupted sleep and insomnia
- Increases appetite
- Deep stretch through the back of the legs
- Release through the lower back
- Opens through the shoulders and neck
- Rushing into the pose, instead of taking the necessary steps
- Focusing too much on folding forward as much as possible, rather than using the breath and feeling the pose,
- Back not straight
- Sit towards the back of the mat with the legs crossed in a comfortable position. Have a straight back and engage the core.
- On an exhale, reach the hands forward, placing the finger tips to the mat in front.
- With the next exhale, place the palms flat to the mat and lower the head to look down into the lap. Keep the neck in line with the spine.
- With each exhale, push the hands further in front with control, folding more forward each time.
- Feel the release through the lower back, the hips, the legs and the spine. Move with each exhale and only come as far as you feel comfortable.
- Eventually, the forehead may come to the mat in front of the crossed legs.
- To release, engage the core and slowly slide the hands back towards the legs, rolling up through the spine until the gaze is facing forwards and the pose has reversed to the original seated position.
“I like to do some sort of forward fold before bed. I often have trouble sleeping because my days are so full and busy. Forward folds help me to calm my mind but also relieve any neck or shoulder tension I have built up throughout the day.”
- Sit at the back of the mat with the legs out in front, knees bent upwards slightly.
- Sit up with the back straight, core engaged.
- On an exhale and with the back still straight, begin to fold forward from the hips, reaching the hands towards the feet.
- Place the upper torso on the thighs and look down towards the shins.
- Grip the big toes with the two first fingers and use this grip to pull deeper into the pose. OPTION: The palms can also grip the feet with the toes to wrist creases or gripping from the outsides of the feet.
- With each exhale, come deeper into the pose and straighten the legs, keeping the upper torso and thighs connected. Come only as far as you feel comfortable.
- To release from the pose, engage the core and lift the upper torso with a flat back, from the hips. For extra sensation, drag the finger tips up the front of the legs as the torso rises.
- Come back to seated position and give the legs a little shake.
Start reaching for your toes, and soon you’ll touch the stars! A great beginners pose and one that everyone can enjoy anytime, anywhere 😉
Mike, Suz & The PPHY Team 🙂