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Yoga Pose: Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Yoga Pose: Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Standing forward fold, or Uttanasana, is wonderful yoga pose with many benefits.

One of those benefits is providing a great stretch, and since Uttanasana literally translates to 'Intense stretch pose', this is no surprise.

If you're feeling anxious or stressed then this pose can help to calm you down. You might like to try hanging out in this pose for a while, perhaps, taking the rag doll variation, with a deep bend in the knees and hands clasped around the elbows.

Although many people love this pose, others can find it challenging, especially those with limited range in their hamstrings. For these people, finding ways to ease the intensity and avoid undue stress on the lower back is key.

Since this yoga asana shows up regularly in vinyasa yoga flows, and sequences such as the Surya Namaskar (or Sun Salutations) series, it's worth adding to your yoga pose repertoire.

Lets have a look at how to perform the Uttanasana at any level of practice, and the benefits you'll be getting when you do!

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Ajnamat stimulates pressure points on your hands and feet in Uttanasana

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What are the benefits of Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)?

  • Stretches the entire back side of the body including hamstrings, calves, and spine
  • Calms and balances the nervous system
  • Reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue
  • Improves digestion
  • Can relieve tension in the lower back when practised with bent knees.
  • Strengthens the legs
  • Decompresses the lower back

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How To Perform Uttanasana

1. Begin with your feet together or hip distance apart and ground down through all four corners of your feet.

2. Hinge at the hips to fold the body forward over the legs, taking your hands to the ground, or if needed, to a block (this is preferable to placing hands on the shins, as it keeps your weight forward).

3. Maintain a micro bend in your knees, or if you have tight hamstrings, bend into the knees as much as needed in order to find length through the spine.

4. Draw the belly inwards.

5. Imagine sending the thigh bones back, allowing you to go deeper into the position, and find more space through the lower back and hamstrings.

6. Check that your weight has not shifted back off the legs. The hips should ideally be placed over the ankles. 

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Practice your standing forward fold on an Ajnamat for the added benefits of acupressure!

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Are There Any Contradictions To Practicing Uttanasana?

As mentioned above, this pose can cause a lot of strain on the lower back when performed incorrectly. Always make length of spine the priority, and bend as deeply as needed into the knees to facilitate this. Use of blocks placed underneath the shoulders is another great option. Of course, if you have ongoing back problems, it's advised that you seek advice from a medical professional.

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Variations of Uttanasana

Want to go deeper in your forward fold stretch? Try Padangusthasana - Big Toe Pose, by wrapping your middle and index finger around your big toe, and using the lock to pull your torso closer to your legs.

For a great shoulder stretch, try clasping the hands behind your lower back, and slowly sending them overhead while in your standing forward fold. Gravity will help here to release tension through the shoulders and upper body.

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Uttanasana is one of our 5 ASANA YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR DAILY PRACTICE. Read the full post to find out which other four yoga poses we like to practice on a daily basis!

 

 

 



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