17 Jul Yoga Pose of the Month – July
Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold
My favorite pose of the month has been this! After re-introducing running and circuits back into my life, my hamstrings need even more TLC and this pose is just perfect for opening them up, while having the added benefit of calming my mind!
What is it?
Basically Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold pose is exactly as it sounds! You stand with the feet wide, and fold forwards!
- Step the feet as wide apart as you can facing the long length of your yoga mat, wth both feet parallel to the short edges of your mat.
- Bring your hands to your hips.
- Inhale standing as tall as you can to lengthen the spine, exhale hinging forward from the hips – pausing briefly at 90 degree angle. Bring your wait into the balls of your feet as well as the heels, to ensure that your hips stay directly above your knees and ankles.
- Once comfortable with personal alignment, continue to bring hands to the ground (or blocks if ground is a long way away!), walking the hands as close to being under the hips as you can reach.
- Let the head be heavy and the neck relax.
- To continue to find more depth in your pose, use the breathe – inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to explore the edge of your shape.
- Use blocks under your hands if needed;
- Bring a gentle bend into the knees if hamstrings are super tight.
How long should I hold it for?
I love to spend between 5 and 10 breathes here, really connecting to my breathe to slow my mind and maximize the release I get through my lower back and hamstrings. I also like to play with the variations outlined below!
Benefits of the Pose
Stretch and Strengthen
This pose stretches our hamstrings, calves, and hips while strengthening our feet, ankles and legs and builds awareness of how to protect our lower back.
This pose is also a mild inversion as it lowers your head and heart below your hips. The combination of an inversion and forward fold bring an amazing feeling of calmness.
Works the Upper Body
It also builds strength in the shoulders and lengthens the back of our neck.
My favorite benefit
What I love the most about Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold is that when we bring our full concentration to the actions of the pose, we find ourself in a state where all other concerns seem to melt away – ekagrata – or one pointed attention, helping us to create the ability to shift out of the multi-tasking, overactive mindset the world seems to demand, slowly bringing us to a focus where the mind can settle on one thing and let the rest of the world, for a time, carry on without you.
- You can bring the hands to blocks to lighten the pose;
- You can walk you hands as far behind you as possible retaining hip position above ankles and knees;
- You can hook your big toes with thumb and index finger, and bend elbows to use breathe to draw your torso closer to your legs;
- You can interlace fingers behind the back as you hinge forward from the hips, introducing an opening of the chest at the same time as opening the hips.