Dear seated forward bends: I owe you an apology! I’ve been writing this blog for months and I have neglected you terribly!! Until now…
I don’t want you to think I have ignored seated forward bends because I don’t like them…quite the contrary. These are some of my favorite poses. I’m not sure why, exactly, they haven’t been featured. Maybe because these poses feel really natural to me and so haven’t really presented themselves in my brain for further analysis. However, when I was putting together my home practice roundup, it occurred to me that I didn’t have any material for one of my favorite parts of the practice. I usually close with some combination of these forward bends in my classes and in my home practice. Enjoy!
I’m planning to unpack some of these poses in more detail in future posts, but I’m going to try to provide enough info to get you started.
Step 1: Badakonasana. Sit with your knees open out to the sides and your feet together. You can bring your feet in as close to your body as feels good. If your knees are off the floor or feel uncomfortable, you can place blocks or blankets underneath them. To come forward, hinge at the hips and keep your back straight until the very last minute. When you’ve come down as far as you want to, go ahead and relax your head and neck. Hold for at least 5 breaths.
Step 2: Janu Sirsasana. I’ve shown two variations in the photos below. In the first two photos, I’ve slightly twisted my torso over my extended leg before I fold forward, creating a bit of abdominal compression. One hand rests on the outside of my ankle and the other is on the outside of my extended leg. In the third photo, I am doing parivrtta (revolved) janu sirsasana. I’ve placed my arm onto my extended leg and grabbed my big toe. My chest is open and my top arm is up and over my ear reaching for the foot on my extended leg, creating a really wonderful lateral side bend. Make sure you do both sides, holding each variation for at least 5 breaths.
Step 3: Upavista Konasana. Anyone who has danced or done gymnastics will be familiar with the general concept of this pose. Sit with your legs wide apart – but not so much that your legs don’t feel integrated into the pelvis. Flex your feet and then fold forward and then side to side, holding each variation for at least 5 breaths. Try to keep your back straight. You can also do a lateral bend here like I did in parivrtta janu sirsasana, though it’s not pictured.
Step 4. Firelog Pose (also called “ankles to knees” or “double pigeon”). This pose is a little challenging if you have a belly, as I obviously do. You won’t be able to fold very far forward unless you actively move your belly out of the way. I also have to make sure my boobs end up in front of my top leg. Anyways, sit with one leg on top of the other, lining up your ankles to your knees and flex your feet strongly. If your hips are really tight there may be a lot of space in between your top knee and bottom ankle. If that’s the case, grab a blanket and place it in between your knee and ankle. Fold forward if it’s comfortable. Hold for 5 breaths and then switch your legs for the other side.
Step 5: Sunbather’s pose. This is a great counter pose for seated forward bends, and I find that it feels really good at the end of a forward bend sequence. Sit with your feet on the ground and your knees bent. Place your hands onto the floor on either side you and then raise your chest up, as if you were trying to get a sun tan. You can drop your head back or not (I’ve chosen not). See if you can feel your shoulder blades moving toward one another. Hold for at least 5 breaths.
As always, please let me know if you have questions in the comments!