Forward folds in yoga are not about how quickly you can smoosh your chest into your thighs. They are about lengthening your spine, not rounding it.
What makes them difficult for a lot of people is a tight lower back and tight hamstrings. If that sounds like you, try doing a seated forward fold on a block or blanket, to give you more room. Also, try softening your knees or pointing your toes to take it out of the hamstrings.
Typically, you see people with very rounded spines who just give up. A block underneath sits bones will give a ton of space and allow for a much deeper forward fold. The breath is key in this pose. Straining and forcing will only lead to injury.
Here's how to do a better Seated Forward Fold:
- Begin seated with legs long and in front of you.
- Take a big inhale to lengthen, and use your exhale to engage your navel to your spine and lean your torso forward, reaching your hands forward as far as feels comfortable on your legs and lower back (NB: do not make touching your toes the goal - that is not the point of this pose!).
- Allow your head to relax down toward your legs so that your neck is relaxed.
- Use each inhale to lengthen your spine, and each exhale to relax your torso towards your thighs a little more.
- Do your best to take the rounding out of your spine.
- Every forward bend has an element of a back bend in it, so find that upper back bend on your inhales to help with lengthening.
Heidi Kristoffer is the creator of CrossFlowX™ and a wellness expert for multiple online platforms. Find her at www.heidiyoga.com.