Standing Forward Bend
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend
1) Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
2) If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.
3) With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
4) Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.
5)Don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.
Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana
Pose Level: 1
Contraindications and Cautions
Back injury: Do this pose with bent knees, or perform Ardha Uttanasana (pronounced ARE-dah, ardha= half), with your hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to your torso, and arms parallel to the floor.
Modifications and Props
To increase the stretch on the backs of the legs, stand in the forward bend with the balls of your feet elevated an inch or more off the floor on a sand bag or thick book.
Deepen the Pose
To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lean slightly forward and lift up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels a half-inch or so away from the floor. Draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, and then, from the height of the groins, lengthen your heels back onto the floor.
To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, bend your knees slightly. Imagine that the sacrum is sinking deeper into the back of your pelvis and bring the tailbone closer to the pubis. Then against this resistance, push the top thighs back and the heels down and straighten the knees again. Be careful not to straighten the knees by locking them back (you can press your hands against the back of each knee to provide some resistance); instead let them straighten as the two ends of each leg move farther apart.
Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
Stimulates the liver and kidneys
Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
Strengthens the thighs and knees
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Reduces fatigue and anxiety
Relieves headaches and insomnia
Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis
With lvoe, light and thanks to Yoga Journal