Standing Forward Bend gives an amazing release to the entire back body. But the catch is, you've got to go deep into relaxation mode to reap all the benefits of this posture. If you find yourself tensing up when you hinge at the hips, breathe deep and take these tips for a ride.
Ground your feet: Laying a strong foundation is essential in any yoga posture, but if your feet aren't hip-distance apart in Standing Forward Bend, it is difficult to shift your weight forward without toppling over. Proper foot placement gives the hips and legs the proper space to reach peak stretching potential. Being able to shift your weight off your heels and into your toes will really give the hamstrings and lower back the much-needed love they deserve — especially if you're hanging at a desk all day!
Leave a little bend: For hamstrings that are oh-so tight, there's no need to freak out if the legs are not perfectly long. Leaving a little bend in the knees still allows the body to get proper release from the pose. Instead of being focused on making the perfect straight shape with the back of your body, focus on breathing deep and getting a full stretch in your back. Be assured that straight legs will come with time and practice.
Keep reading for two more tips.
Let your neck go long: Once you've come into the full expression of Standing Forward Bend, take a big deep breath. On your exhale, lengthen the back of your neck, and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. This tiny shift will change how your body reacts to this pose; it feels as if all the tension you hold in your neck is pouring out through the top of your head.
Grab opposite elbows: If you can't touch your toes, don't stress. Some teachers suggest placing your palms on your shins, but it also feels good to let the hands grab onto the elbows — your left hand grabs your right elbow, and your right hand grabs your left elbow. You'll create a little box shape while your head is flipping upside down. With this easy arm placement, you won't be as concerned about where the hands are. As gravity helps release all the tension in your back and brings you closer to the Earth, you'll inevitably go deeper.