Updated: Jul 11, 2020
By Allison Ray Jeraci
Photo by Andrea Killam
Forward bends have somehow become a prerequisite for yoga. When new students come to class, they often tell me they’re not flexible enough to do yoga because they can’t touch their toes.
But I’ve actually found forward bends to be more advanced than one might think. They are especially frustrating for those whose toes seem to be dispiritingly out of reach. This can include people who are just beginning, or even students who have been practicing for a while. Teaching forward bends to beginners starts with changing our perspective as teachers. We often focus on alignment and aesthetics and lose sight of the specific actions involved in forward bending. Are we telling our students to bend from their hips without teaching them how to initiate that fold from their hips? Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few tips that I’ve found to be tremendously helpful in this endeavor, which I’m happy to share with you.