Standing forward bend.. knees bent?


#1

Hi all…
I have rather tight hamstrings which I are slowly releasing with yoga and other fitness practice but one pose I really feel the tightness is when I came to do a standing forward bend.
Now, to help release the muscles in my hamstrings and calves and the tight tendons behind my knees, should I be bending down with knees bent, and then slowly trying to release the muscles as I try to straighten my knees? Or should I be doing something else, which will open my the backs of my legs and yet not strain my back.
I do reclining big toe pose too, to stretch without straining my back but the progress is slow there too.

Thanks for your advice…


#2

I am curious about this as well – my hamstrings and the tendons on the back of my upper leg and lower back are all very tight, from spending much of my early teens to twenties sitting in chairs and doing lots of computer work. I am having a lot of trouble loosening up my hamstrings and releasing tightness


#3

Hi,
I got this information from Doug Keller who is one of my yoga teacher idols.
Come into your forward fold with knees bent, fingers at thigh creases, initiating the movement from the pelvis rather than the back. Try to keep the spine extended as you come down. Keep knees bent as you place hands on blocks or the floor. Then start to straighten by lifting from the quadriceps.


#4

Hello Miranda.

I don’t advocate keeping knees bent. Keeping them bent will not give you the lengthening you want in the hamstrings. Of course there are times when keeping the knees bent is appropriate, but generally try to keep them straight.

Couple things to try:

  1. When in Supta Padanguthasana where is you lifted leg? Is it at 90 degrees? Is your knee bent? If you have tight hamstrings chances are your knee is bent. It is better to have the leg straight and sacrifice some of the 90 degrees than to bring the leg to 90 with knee bent. With the knee bent, you won’t be lengthening the hams. Use a strap to lift the leg, keeping the leg straight (meaning no bend at the knee) With practice, you’ll see progress.

  2. When folding forward, if your hands do not touch the mat/floor use a block. If you don’t the hamstrings will contract to hold the pelvis and this isn’t what you want.

  3. As you fold forward, bend the knees and lay the torso over the thighs. Contract the thighs and lift sitting bones. Contracting the quads will tell your hams to relax and lengthen. As you lift the sitting bones, your knees will straighten. And again, if your fingers or hands do not come to the floor, use a block.

Hope some of this is of help to you! Good luck!


#5

Hello Miranda,

I assume we are discussing Uttanasana? I’ve specifically selected this image since it conveys what I am about to share.

When the student does not have (enough) opening in the hamstrings AND attempts Uttanasana with the legs remaining straight, the depth of the pose unfortunately comes from a “bending” in the spine (as pictured). For the purposes of Yoga this does not facilitate integrity in the posture. Instead it compress the front of the spine while opening (only) the back and it agitates the nervous system. In asana the short side is lengthened without shortening the long side

If the choice is between bending your knees in the pose (and still working powerfully without aggression) or rounding your spine as in the photo, it will be more physiologically helpful to flex the knees. When the knees are flexed so, the action of gently lifting the sitting bones toward the ceiling will lengthen the hamstrings.

This will be accessible to you as a student assuming several things; the work in Supta Padangusthasana is done with alignment, appropriate actions and done twice per day, the student’s mind is appropriately placed in the muscle when doing, the diet does not continue to add foods which create inflammation in the tissue, and the emotions of fear in moving forward in one’s life are effectively addressed.

While the path of yoga does have some relatively immediate results, the system is designed for continued practice over time. And the results from that level of tapas (doing) and commitment are too numerous to list.


#6

Thanks everyone:D You all seem to agree with what I originally thought (bend the knees and try to lift through the sitting bones) with standing forward bend.

But thank you also for your guidance on reclining big toe - as I had somewhere thought bend and straightening was the way to go, not straight and move through space slowly. Will do that now and see how much more I can lengthen the stubborn hammies.
Plus I’m going back to the gym now and getting more running and classes in, which is great to get my hammies really warm and ready for some good deep stretches with some yoga.


#7

great discussion you guys thank you


#8

Gordon brought up a good point that I neglected to address in my post. If the lower back is higher than the pelvis, most certainly the knees should be bent as the back will take the stretch. I should have elaborated on that when I stated “there are times when bending the knees is appropriate”.

The use of a block to help with hamstring lengthening helps to stop the pelvis from descending. (this gives a good stretch to the hams w/o compromising the lumbar spine) The student must have the proper alignment in doing this and if not, the knees should be bent.

Anyway Miranda, glad you got some useful suggestions. Best of luck to you!


#9

lotusgirl that’s right. if you’re interested in seeing it in motion i can recommend an amazing software - Yoga Anatomy therapeutics training Online!! - contact me for details


#10

For standing forward bend I recommend the knees bent… Then slowly straightening them out when you are in the pose…

Think of engaging the quads or lifting the knee cap… This will help release the hamstring. Include padangusthasana and padahastasana in your routine. Then shift the weight towards balls of feet (knuckles under toes) …

Your brain should tell your legs “hey legs! Stay strong! Especially you quads we are shifting the weight forward. Dont let me fall over” (this helps the hamstring release and relax because it does not need to be used for balance)


#11

Gordon thanks for the detailed reply. can you tell us more about two things you mentioned?

  1. “the diet does not continue to add foods which create inflammation in the tissue” and 2. "the emotions of fear in moving forward in one’s life are effectively addressed."
    that’s really interesting, thank you!

#12

Tell “more” in what way(s)?

Certain foods lead to inflammation in the body. For those who are dealing with inflammation, injury, recovery, dis-ease or other inflammation issues it is prudent to reduce or eliminate the consumption of such foods.

Relative to the second part of your inquiry, there is an energetic component associated with each part of the body.


#13

Thanks Gordon, are you saying Hamstrings are associated with fear of moving forward in life?


#14

To state it ONLY as such would be to try to condense a decade into an hour. But for the purposes of a general reference for an online forum assuming readers are actually being instructed and not “winging it” yes this is generally so. It is a fragmented piece of a larger body of wisdom so in sharing it I hope other teachers aren’t regurgitating it or belching it upon their students until they have a full understanding of it and its application.


#15

Thanks Gordon! what’s a good resource to study more about this type of science? thanks!


#16

It is typically handed down from teacher to student.
However Louise Hay has an interesting book on healing that scratches the surface.


#17

[QUOTE=Miranda;75180]Hi all…
I have rather tight hamstrings which I are slowly releasing with yoga and other fitness practice but one pose I really feel the tightness is when I came to do a standing forward bend.
Now, to help release the muscles in my hamstrings and calves and the tight tendons behind my knees, should I be bending down with knees bent, and then slowly trying to release the muscles as I try to straighten my knees? Or should I be doing something else, which will open my the backs of my legs and yet not strain my back.
I do reclining big toe pose too, to stretch without straining my back but the progress is slow there too.

Thanks for your advice…[/QUOTE]

YES, for your back sake, bend the knees

Subta padangustasana… use strap and block to support the leg

do not worry about slow progress…the more does not mean better:)


#18

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#19

I have the same trouble too. I'm too tight on hamstrings that I couldn't keep my knees straight when I do the forward bend even I've practiced yoga for over 3 months. I tend to try more times and hope this could help.