Ardha Uttanasana: Half Standing Forward Bend
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.
- Wide-legged forward fold | Prasarita padottanasana
- High to mid plank | Chatarunga dandasana
- Ardha = half
- Uttana = intense stretch
- Asana = pose
- Stretches your hips, hamstrings, calves and lower back.
- Strengthens your thighs, core, and back.
- Warms your body.
- Engages the navel chakra, manipura.
- Increases confidence, willpower, and self-esteem.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.
Philosophy + Origin
Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.