How to Improve Your Forward Fold

The Forward Fold, also known as Uttanasana, is an inversion pose that requires the Yogi to bend his or her upper torso over. With this pose, your chest comes in contact with your thighs, and your hands can either reach the floor or reach around in a bind around your legs. 

It is a pose that has many benefits for your body. In addition to lengthening your spine, it also increases blood flow to your brain. It can do wonders for those who suffer from stress, depression, or even can help those with sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses). 

Although this pose may seem relatively easy, it does require some practice in order to complete it successfully and go deeper within the pose. To achieve all the benefits this position has to offer, consider the following when you want to improve your Uttanasana. 

Hang Heavy

The first way to improve is to hang your upper torso heavy to the ground and let gravity do its work. Breathe and hold this pose for around ten breaths. You can even hang in Ragdoll Pose at this point, to properly teach your body how to be heavy. Ragdoll allows you to shake any tension out of your body which is a crucial element if you want to achieve your best in Forward Fold. 

It requires you to take deep breaths and shake your head “no” then nod it “yes.” It also lets you hold onto your elbows or allow your arms to hang heavy to the ground. Once you have made your body hang heavy for some time, you can stretch your hamstrings with the goal to allow your legs to become lengthened. 

Align Your Joints

Your legs are required to be straight for the alignment of your joints to be adequately achieved. Once they are straight, you will need to make sure that your hips are correctly in line with your ankles. It will require you to use a block to help your hands reach the earth, or your hands will need to touch the earth. 

You can then rock back and forth gently on your feet to allow for a deeper stretch in your hamstrings and allow yourself to reach the purest form of Uttanasana. 

Muscle Engagement 

The last thing you want is to injure your body when you are trying to push deeper within a pose. For those who hyperextend their joints, you will want to pay particular attention to where your kneecaps rest. Engage the muscles within your leg, and even within your core, to prevent injuries from happening. You will want to feel as though you are lifting your kneecap when stretching out your leg.

Extra Tips

Wanting to have your chest close to your thighs will significantly help with your flexibility and stretch both your spine and your hamstrings. Try practicing this pose next to a wall where you can then inch your way forward and have your back against the wall. It will slowly let your chest come closer to your thighs. 

Make sure to line your fingers in with your toes and that your belly melts over your thighs. It’s okay if your back is rounded as it is difficult to have a perfectly straight back in Forward Fold.

Uttanasana is a great pose that gives us many benefits but requires time and practice in order to reach our full potential. The key ingredients for a Forward Fold are:

  1. To breathe deep into the pose
  2. Don’t hyperextend the legs
  3. Engage the muscles
  4. And align the joints properly. 

Keep at it, and you will thrive from this pose throughout the rest of your yoga practice and beyond. 

Mental Health

First off, mental health is not an issue; it is a state. Some of those states are more compliant with what goes on around us, while some are less. But, the latter should not be looked down upon. Everyone has things going on in their life. How well they cope with them is a different story.

Don’t get lost in the web of possibilities, rather find your thing and focus your energy on making yourself a better person with each passing day. It could be either creating art, playing a sport, a musical instrument, even reading, writing, gardening, or cooking; be creative with possibilities.

If you’re a parent or have been around kids, you know that there are always a couple of those who never seem to run out of energy. Their energy levels also make them into people who constantly need attention. Make those kid’s lives focused with intentions from early on. Let them create dreams and play out their lives on top of their thoughts.

In essence, use the physical movement as the medicine. There’s actually a correlation between inactivity and the mental health of that individual. 

In today’s world, stress and being overwhelmed are so common. If it’s not us suffering, we know of someone who is from mental health issues. We spend too much time stuck in our own head, instead of spending that same time on our body. Overthinking is not a solution. It moreover creates bigger issues.

So, how can we fix this? Well, we can move our body more. However, we should be aware that movement is perceived as stress to our brain. Then it produces a chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). It is the substance that takes care of repairing and protecting the brain. But it also plays a key role in creating new neurons and connections within our brain. Alongside it all, endorphins are released. They are tightly connected after performing a physical activity. The combination of the two makes us happy and relieved after we have completed the activity. As they, in essence, helped us escape from the enemy we were running away from. 

Over a long-term, the movement changes the physical structure of our brain. It decreases the biological reaction to stress. While it also boosts our self-esteem. So, the answer to stress is physical movement. It’s as simple as that. “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps them in vigor.” It isn’t a new revelation. It was stated by Cicero more than 2000 years ago.

Even just changing our posture helps us create new pathways in our brain. The rhythm of our breath is enough to change the chemicals in our brain and move us from stress towards feeling better. Changing the posture or as we said, better, by moving, we disrupt the pattern of stress buildup within us. 

So, find something within the movement that makes you happy. Let that be dance, a walk in the park, or a marathon run. Put on your gorgeous pair of athletic leggings and enjoy how your body travels through space.