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.
- 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.
- Begin in a standing forward bend (uttanasana).
- Inhale to reach your chest forward, lengthening the sides of your torso.
- Place your fingertips on the ground, or hands to shins.
- Bring your gaze to the ground in front of you, neck in neutral alignment.
- Hold the lifted pose for a couple breaths before exhaling back to forward fold.
- Ardha = half
- Uttana = intense stretch
- Asana = pose
- Stretches your hips, hamstrings, calves and lower back.
- Strengthens your thighs, core, and back.
- Warms your body.
- Improves posture.
- Engages the navel chakra, manipura.
- Increases confidence, willpower, and self-esteem.
Manipura Bija Mantra
Connect to your core and feel its power by reciting the bija mantra (seed sound) for the solar plexus, “RAM.”
MUDRA: Merudanda Mudra
This mudra’s name comes from the mythological Mount Meru. The Sanskrit “merudanda” can translate to “spine” in English. Using this mudra helps practitioners cultivate emotional and energetic steadiness by bringing balance to the navel manipura chakra. To practice, sit cross legged with your hands resting on your thighs. Make fists with your hands, palms facing each other, and extend your thumbs up.