There are several common variations of standing wide-legged forward bend, and which variation we’re considering affects our intentions for the arms, shoulders, and upper body. We’ll discuss techniques for the arms in variations of the pose further on in the article. In all variations of standing wide-legged forward bend, there can be a tendency to forget the upper body because we are so focused on what the legs are doing. It’s important to continue the idea of lengthening the tissues along the back of the body through the torso, head, and neck, and not let that intention stop with the lower body.
The intention of the feet, as I see it, is to provide support and a base under the body. If the feet are too far away from each other, then we lose that sense of the stable ground underneath us. A good cue is, if you need to wiggle the feet closer together to stay balanced when coming up from a standing wide-legged forward bend, then you have the feet too wide. You should be able to fold forward and come up again without moving the feet.
A common pattern I see in variations of this pose is students looking up while holding the forward bend, either because they feel like they are going to fall if they shift their gaze and let their head and neck relax, or because they are just unaware of holding the extra tension in the head, neck, and shoulders. Try to allow the head and neck to be inline with the rest of the spine. Remember we’re lengthening tissues along the whole back line of the body. This includes the head and neck. If you feel like you will fall if you let the head relax, re-examine your foot foundation and perhaps bring the feet a bit closer together.
Similarly, we shouldn’t try to trick our bodies into believing that we are deeper in the forward bend than we are. I also see people curling their spine and tightening the front of their neck. It seems to me that their body is trying to achieve more depth in the pose from wherever it can, not necessarily where it matters, in this case, the hip joints.