How to Do Uttanasana

forward fold

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Uttanasana (standing forward fold) is a more modern yoga pose, first seen in the 20th century in Krishnamacharya’s 1934 Makaranda. 

It is entered into from Tadasana or Downward Facing Dog and is a pose that stretches the entire back body. Despite popular belief, the purpose of this pose is not to touch your toes. Instead the focus is on creating space in the back body stretching everything from your neck all the way to the hamstrings and calves and lengthening the spine. Bending the knees is highly recommended!

How to do Uttanasana

  1. Beginning in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) at the front of your mat, feet hips distance apart, inhale sweeping the arms up.
  2. Exhale bringing the arms out to the sides and hinging at the hips.
  3. Bending the knees as much as needed, bringing your hands to the floor.
  4. Focusing on bringing the belly to the tops of the thighs and drawing the sit bones to the cieling. 
  5. Option to straighten the legs maintaining alignment of the ankles and hips.
proper alignment tips in forward fold
what not to do in forward fold

Benefits of Standing Forward Fold

  • Stretches the spine, hips, hamstrings and calves
  • Strengthens the spine, thighs and abdomen.
  • Calms the mind and releases stress
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Relieves headache and insomnia

Contraindications

  • Sciatica
  • Hamstring tear
  • Glaucoma
  • Detached Retina

Modifications

There are several ways to modify the pose to protect the lower back and avoid aggravating the hamstrings while stilling finding a good stretch.

  1. If you have tight hamstrings, keep a deep bend in the knees. 

2. If you have trouble touching the floor, use blocks to bring the floor closer to your hands. 

Variations

  1. Arms crossed – With your torso touching your thighs, raise the torso slightly. Cross your forearms bringing your opposite hands to opposite feet making an “x” with your forearms. 
  2. Rag doll – In full forward fold, grabbing elbows in opposite hands and hanging heavy. 

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