Forward folds can improve digestion, reduce fatigue, and may improve high blood pressure. Restorative forward folds help calm the autonomic nervous system and can help bring the energy down in the body. It’s important in forward folds to start the pose by lengthening in the lower back and can end with a slight rounding of the upper back if necessary. Your head must always be supported in this pose and your arms/hands are there to be supported and relaxed, not reaching or pulling. This pose can be tricky for people with tight hamstrings, hip flexors, or lower back and a posterior-tilted pelvis. There are many variations of this pose, so find the one where you can rest comfortably for a period of time. In this pose, you will feel a gentle stretch in your lower back, hamstrings, and adductors(inner thighs).
Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice. Cautions for this pose include Sciatica, SI joint dysfunction, hamstring injury. Avoid this pose if you are pregnant.
To set up this pose, you will want to have a bolster or two, a blanket or two, and perhaps a folding chair(or any chair that you can rest your head comfortably on and spread your legs out). If folding forward is difficult, you may want to start by sitting on a folded blanket for more height and perhaps a forward shift in your pelvis. Spread your legs out as wide as is comfortable to hold for a period of time. You will relax your legs here. Place your bolster(s) vertical in front of you between your legs. Place your hands on your hips, sit up straight, and fold from the pelvis and lower back region. You will want to avoid any rounding in the lower or middle back. Once you have folded as far as you can go, place a combination of bolsters and blankets at the right height to rest your head comfortably. You may place your forehead on the blankets/bolsters or folded hands, or rest on your right or left ear. If not using your hands for support, simply place them on your mat where they fall. If a combination of bolsters or blankets is not comfortable for you, try placing a folding chair in between your legs and fold as much as comfortable with your forehead placed on your folded hands.
Once you are set up in the pose, you can soften your gaze or close your eyes and begin with your rhythmic breathing. You may stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable to you. Average time may be 3 to 5 minutes. To come out of the pose, slowly lift your head away from the supports with a flat back. Spend a moment sitting up and notice any changes you may feel in your body.
Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up with pose:
Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.