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Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
Standing Forward Bend Pose gives a wonderful stretch to your legs and back. It is a calming asana that can be practiced as a standalone pose or as part of a sequence.
My yoga students are often fixated on whether or not they can touch the ground, or their toes, in this pose. As you hold Standing Forward Bend pose (Uttanasana), adopt an attitude of awareness, acceptance and compassion towards your body, regardless of how flexible or strong you are.
The benefits of this pose:
- Stretches your posterior kinetic chain, including your hamstrings and gluteus maximus.
- Relieves anxiety and stress.
- Calms your mind.
- Cultivates patience, awareness and acceptance.
- Hold your ankles from behind and bend your elbows outwards. Gently pull on your ankles and bring your chest and legs closer to your legs.
- Link your fingers behind your back and bring your arms up and over your head. Keep your arms straight.
Cautions & modifications:
- Tightness in your hamstrings and back can limit you in this pose. Try bending your knees or placing your feet hip width apart to make the pose easier.
- Place your hands on yoga bricks if they don’t reach the ground.
- Place a yoga brick under the crown of your head for extra support, particularly if you have tension in your neck.
- Practice under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher if you have low blood pressure, high blood pressure or a hamstring or back injury.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
- Your focal point (dristi) is your nose or a fixed point straight ahead of you. Alternatively close your eyes and draw your focus inwards.
MOVING INTO THE POSE
- Stand in Mountain pose with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Spread your weight evenly across the soles of your feet.
- Inhale and lift your arms on either side of your head.
- Exhale and fold down, moving your upper body towards your legs.
POSITION YOUR HANDS AND ARMS
- If possible, place your hands on the ground on either side of your feet with your fingers pointing forwards and in line with your toes.
- Lightly press into your hands to lengthen your spine.
- Keep your hands fixed on the ground and contract your biceps to bend your elbows so they are pointing backwards. This action will draw your upper body towards your legs.
RELAX YOUR NECK AND SHOULDERS
- Lengthen the back of your neck.
- Allow a sense of space around your neck by gently moving your shoulders away from your head.
ENGAGE AND ALIGN YOUR LEGS
- Engage your quadriceps to straighten your legs and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
- Align your shins, knees and thighs so they are in a vertical line.
STRETCH THE MUSCLES OF THE POSTERIOR KINETIC CHAIN
- Breathe smoothly in the pose and feel the muscles of the posterior kinetic chain stretching.
- The posterior kinetic chain is the group of muscles at the back of your body. It includes the gastrocnemius, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and the posterior parts of the gluteus maximus, quadratus lumborum and erector spinae.
COMING OUT OF THE POSE
- Inhale and slowly stand up with your arms on either side of your head.
- Exhale and lower your arms by your sides.