In a sun-salutation or mountain-to-mountain sequence, forward fold will usually follow mountain and upward mountain. When directing individuals into this pose, be aware of the following situations:
- Some individuals may try force the stretch to touch the floor.
- Give verbal cues that offer hands to be on thighs, calves, or grab opposite elbows.
- Give the option to bend knees as much as needed.
- Watch for spinal alignment, when bending forward individuals have a tendency to round their backs.
- Begin by stretching shoulders into correct position, away from ears. Cue belly button to spine to support the lumbar spine.
- If it is difficult to cue having a straight or flat back, have individuals put their hands on their thighs or a chair and look forward about 3-5 feet.
When getting into the pose from Upward Mountain, squeeze bellybutton towards the spine and roll the shoulders out of the ears, gently release the arms forward and down (we sometimes use the imagery of a waterfall flowing over the mountain), and come to rest with slightly bent knees and a gentle fold at the hips. Feel free to cue for hand placement at this time. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths, switch elbow grasps if opposite elbows were an option.
Forward Fold has many benefits to the body, but for some individuals it can be very disorienting in terms of their sensory systems, reflexes, and gross motor development. If an individual begins to demonstrate some unpleasant behaviors in this pose, some of the following strategies may be helpful:
- Decrease the amount of time in the pose
- Put them on a dynamic surface to engage core muscles and increase vestibular input
- Blow on whistles to promote deep breathing and control
- Lean against or into a wall during folding to assist in balance.
- Use of chair fold pose to decrease impact of vestibular input.
- Use of a carpet square for an identified personal space
- Practice standing in this pose while engaged in another activity such as singing a song or another activity that does not require much thought
- Widen the base of support
- Implement sensory strategies
For specific information on strategies you could use contact the individual’s school-based or private occupational therapist, or comment a general question to be answered.
This pose is especially beneficial for individuals who may need a general “reset.” It allows the gaze to move towards the floor and the upper body to relax. Most individuals find this pose calming, and it can be a great transition tool between activities especially when moving from standing to sitting and vice versa.
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