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1. From Mountain pose exhale forward hinging at the hips. Bend the knees enough to bring the palms flat to the floor and the head pressed against the knees.
2. Feel the spine stretching in opposite directions as you pull the head down and in and press the hips up. Work on straightening the legs to deepen the stretch in the backs of the legs.
3. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths, actively pressing the belly into the thighs on the inhalation.
4. To release: bend the knees keeping the back straight, inhale the arms out to the sides and inhale the arms and torso up back into Mountain pose.
Benefits: Standing Forward Fold pose lengthens the spinal column and stretches the backs of the legs and the back muscles. This posture stimulates digestive, uro-genital, nervous and endocrine systems.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the legs, hips, back or shoulders.
Modifications: Place yoga blocks under the hands.
Variations: There are multiple variations on the placement of the hands: A) Hold on to the backs of the ankles, B) Scoop the fingers under the feet until the toes reach the wrists, C) Cross the arms behind the legs and hold onto the front of the ankles with opposite hands, D) Clasp the elbows behind the legs.