If you haven’t done this move since you were in grade school, don’t worry. Props and variations can set you up for a great stretch. If your doctor warns against forward folds because of disc herniations or osteoporosis, then make sure you are keeping your spine straight and long with the armpits pulling down towards the hips. This keeps the back muscles contracted and active.
In my opinion, a forward fold with a straight back (vs. curving the spine and relaxing all the muscles) should be the go-to, no matter what type of pose you're in. Try it and see how it feels in your body!
Chair, seated: Move towards the front of the chair and open both knees out to the side. Hinge forward at the hips keeping a flat back and straight spine, and let the spine relax forward and bring the hands to blocks for support.
Chair, standing: Step both legs a good distance from the chair while still holding onto the back. Spread your feet shoulder distance apart or wider, as comfortable. Hinge forward at the hips with a flat back holding onto the back or seat of the chair for support.
Mat, seated: Sit on a blanket or bolster to better lengthen and keep a straight spine. Open the legs away from each other as wide as you feel comfortable with. Keep the knees softly bent, and hinge gently at the hips keep the spine long. If it is ok for your back, you can curve the spine forward and bring your arms in front of the hips. You can also rest the forearms or forehead on blocks for additional support.
Mat, standing: Spread the legs open wide with the toes pointed forward. Keeping the knees soft, forward fold with a straight or curved spine, whatever you prefer. Bring the hands to blocks on any height for more support.
Restorative: Lie on the back with the hips snuggled against the wall. Open the legs a comfortable distance apart and use a strap below the knees or on the ankles to keep the legs from extending too far apart.
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