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How to Stretch Safely in Yoga (Paschimottanasana)

Learn some safe yoga stretches from certified yoga instructor Chelsey Korus in this Howcast video.


All right. We're going to come into a conversation about safe yoga stretching. I'll show you through a posture called paschimottanasana. It's a forward fold in the seated position and your legs will be extended in front of you. A lot of us get here and we just want to go for the toes. Right?

We want to be able to be flexible in our minds but often times that's not best for the hamstrings or the thighs. So, in order to have any type of safe yoga stretching, you need to understand that there needs to be two energies happening which are contraction and elongation. So, as we come in forward fold, the thigh muscles must contract and pull up as the under belly of the hamstring begins to extend because that is the part you're stretching.

If you reach forward and you feel a huge pull here, you need to have just as much energy picking up from the kneecap so that muscle can extend underneath. Instead of reaching for the toes, you bring your fingertips to the floor, lift the kneecaps upwards toward the hip bones so the backs of the legs can feel supported, and then just lock your fingertips there. Your pinky toes pull back towards your face and you just walk your fingertips from there. Instead of thinking fingers to toes, think about carving your heart center towards your toes. Your belly lifts away from you thigh, tail bone reaches behind you, and you walk yourself forward. Listen to the body. The body will tell you when that's enough or it will tell you where the line is and you can continue to go further.

So, coming further, all the way in the forward fold. The thigh bones press down, energy extends through the heels, and you walk yourself back up. That's the way to have a safe stretch.

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