Ardha Uttanasana: Half Standing Forward Bend

halfstandingforward stephschwartz

An effective stretch for your hamstrings and calves ardha uttanasana (ARE-dah OOT-tan-AHS-anna), is often used during vinyasa sequences to connect the breath as you flow from one posture to the next.

Philosophy + Origin

One of the reasons ardha uttanasana is used so much in vinyasa yoga classes is that it positions the body for chaturanga dandasana. Because it engages the navel and core, it’s a powerful pose for warming up the body, which is why it’s included in warm-up sequences. Despite its sometimes transitory nature, the pose also engages the navel chakra (manipura), which can bring the practitioner increased confidence and willpower.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Place fingertips on the shins or blocks.
  • Place hands on a chair or wall.
  • Bend knees as much as needed to offer more space for the spine and lower back.
  • Although the name of the posture suggests “half,” it doesn’t mean that you must lift half way up. For some, even a quarter lift provides a powerful stretch for the backs of the legs without compromising alignment.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin in a standing forward bend (uttanasana).
  2. Inhale to reach your chest forward, lengthening the sides of your torso.
  3. Place your fingertips on the ground, or hands to shins.
  4. Bring your gaze to the ground in front of you, neck in neutral alignment.
  5. Hold the lifted pose for a couple breaths before exhaling back to forward fold.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

  • Wide-legged forward fold | Prasarita padottanasana
  • High to mid plank | Chatarunga dandasana

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Ardha = half
  • Uttana = intense stretch
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches your hips, hamstrings, calves and lower back.
  • Strengthens your thighs, core, and back.
  • Warms your body.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Engages the navel chakra, manipura.
  • Increases confidence, willpower, and self-esteem.


Garudasana: Eagle Pose

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ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS   |    SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Eagle pose, or garudasana (gah-rue-DAHS-anna), requires a combination of balance, strength, and flexibility. A great stretch for your shoulders, upper back, and legs, garudasana creates space in your body physically, but also opens up space mentally. To sustain the posture, you must give it your full attention and commitment, drawing your mind to one singular point of focus.

Philosophy + Origin

Although commonly known as eagle pose, the word “garuda” in Sanskrit really refers to a great mythical bird, one with a golden body, white face, and red wings. The king of all birds, Garuda is the vehicle of choice for Lord Vishnu, who serves as the preserver and protector of humans and creation. Garuda is the bird who managed to obtain the elixir of immortality, soma, in order to save his mother Vinata from enslavement.

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