Bikram Yoga SLC instructor Nella Holden
The goal in Stretching Pose (Paschimottanasana) is not to bend forward from the spine but to extend forward so that the front and back of your torso lengthen evenly. The folding should occur at the hips, not the spine or waist. You will feel the stretch in the back or west side of the body but the front of the body needs to make space to elongate the spine.
*Imagine placing your lower ribs on your thighs. Even if you are nowhere close to being able to actually do this, envisioning doing this in your mind will help to straighten out and elongate your spine. Bring your back ribs downward away from the ceiling to bring your front ribs closer to your thighs.
*If you are able to place your lower ribs on your thighs, envision placing your upper ribs on your knees!
*If you feel like your bottom ribs are stuck to your abdomen, you are folding from your waist rather than your hips. You can lift upward slightly to free your lower abdomen, spread the diaphragm and extend forward towards your chest.