New Monthly Focus: Forward Folds, and a reintro to our Astoria yoga studio



This month, at the Watershed Wellness Astoria yoga studio, we’re going to be trying out a new focus for our yoga classes. Throughout the month the teachers at Watershed Wellness are going to be focusing on a unified theme. Each teacher will incorporate the theme into their classes in a unique way including discussing anatomy, yoga philosophy and utilizing gentle breath work.

We’ll also be providing some at-home materials for you to deepen your practice and understanding of of our monthly focus that will include:

  • Blog posts and resources that help to explain the monthly focus
  • A fundamentals level video practice that you can do at home
  • A intermediate level flow practice that you can do at home
  • On occasion, monthly workshops and classes to deepen your practice

So, what's on tap this month?

March Astoria yoga studio focus: forward folds

Forward folds are a great way to get to know the back of your body better. We spend much of our day in a forward folded position. Are you sitting while reading this? You’re in a forward fold! Creasing forward at the hips and rounding through the spine while sitting lengthens out the muscles of your back and hips, while shortening the hamstrings and psoas muscles.

We all spend much of our days in this position, but what if we were able to find some balance between the front and the back of the body in a way that feels supportive and sustainable for the health of our lower backs and hamstrings? Let’s look at the anatomy of the soft tissues along the back of the body

One of the technical terms for this part of our bodies is : The Superficial Back Line (SBL)

The Superficial Back Line connects the posterior body from the base of the foot to the top of the brow line. The SBL connects in two pieces: from foot to knee, and from knee to head. When standing the SBL acts as a continuous line of supported muscles and connective tissue.

The myofascial tissues involved in the SBL are:

  • Plantar fascia
  • Calf muscles:
    • Gastrocnemius
    • Soleus
  • Hamstring muscles
    • Biceps Femoris
    • Semimembranosis
    • Semitendonosis
  • Sacrotuberous ligament
  • Erector Spinae muscles of the back
  • Epicranial fascia

The myofascial tissues of the body follow the law of tensegrity.

Tensegrity (a combination of the words tension and integrity) is a the interplay between balance and tension in the body. For example, if you constantly stand on your left foot and lean your weight over into your left hip, the myofascial tissues of your body are going to start to adapt to this imbalance and create patterns in the body that will reinforce this weight transfer. Some tissues will get longer, and some shorter, to try to maintain this pull toward the left side of your body.

Another easy example to understand is someone who often wears high heels. The plantar fascia and the calf muscles are chronically being shortened, and the pelvis has to do a balancing act to keep you upright. The lower back sways out, shortening the musculature here because your upper back is trying to maintain balance by leaning back. The body has amazing compensatory reactions, but at a cost that might implicate long term lower back pain or knee pain in this instance.

Back to our WW Astoria yoga studio monthly focus: Forward folds

Learning about the musculature of the Superficial Back Line as well as learning how to lengthen and strengthen this connective tissue chain in a balanced and intentful way can help you understand why your lower back always hurts, or why the shoes you are wearing might not be great for your posture. Is it hard for you to reach down and touch your toes? Does this exacerbate your lower back pain? Do you have foot pain or neck pain? The myofascial tissues of the SBL might be part of the problem!

We’ve put together a few examples of forward folds that can help to lengthen out the back of your body. Give them a try at home or come to any class during March to explore these poses in your body.

These poses are also very helpful for finding a gentle inward focus

As we move toward the busy-ness of spring and summer it's nice to cultivate our inner seeds before they come forth into their spring blossoms. This is a chance for you to deepen your understanding of your inner self in a way that feels very grounded as we move toward the Spring Equinox.

We appreciate any comments or feedback about how these poses work for you, or any questions you may have about how to do these poses safely. We'll see you in class at the WW Astoria yoga studio!

Written by Amanda Barp

Amanda Barp is co-founder of Watershed Wellness, a licensed massage therapist with 10+ years experience, a registered yoga teacher with a passion for learning and teaching about the human body & how to feel at home in it.