A great hip opener, and decompression for the lower spine when folding forward
Hard on the pelvis and knees and can aggravate sciatica. If you have sciatica, elevate the hips by sitting on a cushion so the knees are below them. Beware of hips rotating backward while seated; we want them to rotate forward.
If you have any lower back disorders which do not allow flexion of the spine, then do not allow the spine to round: keep the back as straight as you can.
Pregnant women should not fold forward after the first trimester.
Getting Into the Pose:
There are several options for coming into this pose. One way is to begin by kneeling on all fours then place one knee behind the other and sit back between the heels. A second approach is to begin by sitting on your heels and then slide onto one buttock and bring the outside foot over toward the opposite hip. A third approach is to begin by sitting cross-legged and then draw one foot under the opposite thigh and the other foot over toward the opposite hip.
Try not to sit on the feet but slide them as far forward as they can go. Anchor both sitting bones to the ground.
Alternatives & Options:
If hips are tight, sit on a bolster to tilt them forward.
If the bottom knee complains, do the pose with the bottom leg straight. If the top knee complains, place a bolster or blanket under that knee. If this is still too hard, sit cross-legged and fold forward.
Support the chest with bolster.
When folding forward, you can support the head with the hands, leaning the elbows onto the thighs or a block or bolster.
Hands can be to the side or in front of the body, or stretch the arms back behind the body.
If sensations are too intense in the hips or knees, remain upright or take more weight into the hands and arms.
Side bends or twists can be added here, which work the Gall Bladder meridian along sides of the torso;
Other alternatives include Eye-of-the-Needle Pose,  Square Pose, or Swan.
Coming Out of the Pose:
Lean back to release the hips and slowly straighten the legs.
Windshield Wipers lying down or sitting (to provide an internal rotation of the leg)
Tabletop (aka Hammock)
Meridians & Organs Affected:
Liver, Kidney, and Gall Bladder. If folding forward, the Urinary Bladder line will be stimulated and the stomach compressed.
Hips and lower spine.
Recommended Hold Times:
Three to five minutes per side;
Similar Yang Asanas:
It is nice to follow this with Sleeping Swan, before doing other side.
Could also do a sitting twist afterwards.
Start with the most-open hip first (whichever hip is more open, place that knee on top).
Keep weight back into sitting bones when you come forward, preventing the weight from moving into the knees.
Keep hips even. There is a tendency for the top hip to be pulled forward.
While you are lingering in this pose, try some poses targeting the shoulders or wrists. Check the section on the upper body for some suggestions.
You could do the first half of the time in a variation like sidebend or twist and then fold forward for the remaining time.
1 -- Lying on your back, cradle your shin in your arms.