Uttanasana is a standing pose which relies on flexibility and strength in the hamstrings and back muscles. This pose will help your cells rejuvenate as the blood rushes to the head and gives your body a boost of oxygen. It is one of my favourite poses to do when I’m feeling a little low on energy, or if I need a good hamstring stretch.
Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana
How to do:
(This video shows you the proper alignment. To get into Uttanasana, place your palms flat on the floor if you can, or on a block)
Standing forward bend pose is a common fixture in a typical yoga routine. The pose itself offers flexibility of application. It can be used as a stand-alone pose or as a transition or resting move. For beginners who may feel stiff at first, it will only get easier with time and practice.
Uttanasana requires somewhat straight legs, arms and hands when on the floor. It may be hard to achieve this at first, especially if you have tight hips. Don’t push yourself, it should feel natural and not forced. Don’t lock your knees back to try and keep your legs too straight as this could cause injury. The object of this pose is also to lengthen the torso, so pay particular attention to this area. Imagine reaching the floor with your chest and not with your head - as is often the case - as this rounds the back, something you don’t want. In order to slowly open up the hips, you need keep your back as flat as possible, stomach tucked in, and bend forward. It doesn’t matter if you can only go down a little. Slowly your body will open up.
If you’ve mastered the legs and forward bend but are having difficulty stretching your hands to the floor, there are modifications which can be applied. Try using a block to give some height, which will aid your arms. Over time, the block should become unnecessary, which should be your goal.
Uttanasana offers many variations, so it should never become dull. You can move your hands to the back of your ankles or clutch your elbows behind your legs. Try and perfect the original pose before moving on to advanced adaptations. If you’re hoping to stretch the leg muscles further, you can raise the balls of your feet and rest a book underneath.
Studies have shown that the standing forward bend pose has therapeutic benefits for people who suffer from osteoporosis. Everyone responds differently to yoga, so it’s important to take it slow and to find your comfort zone. Using a mat or carpet will help with balance and control.
Due to the reliance on the back and legs, if you’ve suffered any recent injury or have chronic pain in these areas, you shouldn’t attempt this pose.