So Your Forward Bends Suck

Usually when people ask me about forward bends, I tell them to be patient. I tell them to practice their forward bends and to implement the tips they get from their teacher. Not everyone has a teacher that they trust. Therefore, today I'm going to give you a round-about somewhat kind of plan. Do you want to get past the modifications for your forward bends sooner than later? Do you want to effortlessly flop forward into a magnificent toe-touching extravaganza? Then do hip openers. I've written about hip openers before, and I suggest you check it out because that old stuff will come up.

I'm going to suggest a short sweet routine of only 6 poses (in 8 pics) you can do every day. This is not an all inclusive list/sequence - if you know of some hip openers you really like - throw them in. If you're in a hurry you can do these poses in a tiny window of time each morning or evening... maybe during your break at work. Longer holds are better, but doing something is always better than doing nothing. Also - try sitting on the floor more often. Chairs are bad for you.

Wide Legged Forward Bend. Take your legs as wide as is comfortable. Mine is pretty wide - maybe too wide.
Keep your toes flexed and pointing up. Spine LONG, groins open, and tailbone tucked downward. If you're comfortable upright - try folding forward. Keep all those things I just listed and breathe. If your toes start to point more forward than up - you've gone too far. Come out of it a bit until you can keep them up.

Janu Sirsasana. From your wide legged seated stance, bend one knee and bring that heel to the same side thigh/groin crease. Flex your toes - no lazy feet! Turn to face your straight leg. Hold the outside edge of the foot with the opposite hand. Spine long, legs active, fold forward - toward your shin. If you can't reach the foot - hold the leg, grab a strap, or simply place your hands on each side of your straight leg. Carefully return to center and repeat on the other side. PS: my other hand is next to my hip, on fingertips - elbow elevated and shoulder back to keep my side body long.

Cobbler. Soles of your feet together - as close to your groins as is comfortable. Don't worry about it if your knees are far away from the floor. Let the front of your groins open and the tailbone tuck. Flex your feet and keep the soles together. I know some styles teach feet open like a book - I don't. Let gravity push your knees down - don't assist it.  Spine long. If you're comfy upright - try folding forward. 

Cowface Pose - only the lower body part. Sit here with knees approximately stacked best you can. Spine long... don't allow your back to round too much. Be careful with your knees when moving into or out of this pose. Hold for a while then repeat on the other side.

Garland variation. Feet about shoulder distance apart and pointing forward as much as possible. If you can't get your heels to the ground and be comfortable then roll up a mat or stack some blankets under your heels. Press your thighs into your triceps (back of your upper arm) and your triceps into the thighs/knee area. Really pressing your palms together strongly will help. Keep your spine long and breathe.

Pigeon - I love pigeon pose. Obviously. Notice my front knee is inside that same side hand. This type of setup is ideal if you have sensitive knees. Bring your front toes closer to your opposite hip the more your body resists this pose. Eventually your front shin will be parallel to the front of your mat, but start small. Back toes tucked under to assist in pushing that side's hip forward while pulling the bent knee's hip back. This is drawing them towards square.

Keep your front foot flexed. This more forward your foot is - the more important this becomes to protect the knee. Stay up on your fingertips to avoid getting SOGGY in the pose. Spine long, tailbone tucked, shoulders back to support the heart pressing forward.

Fold forward to work a different aspect of the hips. This may make you want to punch someone in the face. You've been warned. Spine long, keep drawing the hips toward square, palms up or down based on preference. Palms down is quieting, Palms up makes the pose (and any bad feelings about it) an offering. Carefully press back to downward facing dog for a few moments before repeating on the other side.

Finish with a 5-10 minute Savasana.
If you try this sequence - let me know if you like it. Let me know if you have questions. I'm always around. Namaste.

In general, this sequence is for anyone, but please don't try this sequence without speaking to your Dr. first if you have any medical/physical problems. Seek Peace At Your Own Risk!

If you're reading this post there's a good chance you want to read these too:
Standing Forward Bends for Unflexible Bodies
Seated Forward Bends for People That Don't Bend That Way
Touch Your Toes - Eventually

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