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.


Anjaneyasana: Monkey Lunge Pose

Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh), also known as low lunge or monkey lunge, stretches the hips, gluteus muscles, and quadriceps while improving balance, concentration, and core awareness.

Philosophy and Origin:

The term anjaneya is a matronymic reference to the monkey god Hanuman using his mother’s name, Anjani. Lord Hanuman is a central part of Hindu devotional worship, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The pose resembles a young, divine child (anjaneya), reaching towards the sky and the warmth of the sun, captivated by a glowing fruit in the sky as depicted in the traditional epic.

Sanskrit:

  • Anjaneya: Lord Hanumān, the divine entity of spiritual significance
  • Asana: pose
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