Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend

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A soothing posture for body and mind, uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna), or standing forward bend, is straightforward but far from simple. Requiring flexibility in hamstrings, hips, and calves, uttanasana also requires patience. Watch the ebbs and flows in your body and life reflected in this simple posture.

Philosophy + Origin

In uttanasana, knowing when to accept intensity and when to be content with where you are is key to steady progress without injury or frustration. It’s easy to try to push for more — with uttanasana, this means wanting to be more flexible or pushing further into the pose. Rather than struggling, use the posture to practice santosha (contentment). Can you accept both the intensity and your capacity right now?

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Separate your feet to give your hamstrings room — keep your feet parallel.
  • If your back is uncomfortable in this shape, practice with knees bent.
  • If the ground seems far away, place your hands on blocks.
  • To deepen the posture, hold onto the backs of your ankles or grasp opposite forearms behind your calves.
  • To deepen the stretch at the backs of your legs, elevate the balls of your feet with a rolled mat or blanket

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start standing with your hands on your hips. Exhale to hinge from the hips and bend forward. Think about creating as much length as possible from your hips to your head.
  2. Release your fingertips toward the ground or your blocks.
  3. Root down into the four corners of your feet.
  4. Release the back of your head and neck.
  5. On inhales, feel your torso lengthen, and on exhales, feel your chest reach toward your toes.
  6. Stay in uttanasana for up to one minute.
  7. To exit the pose, return your hands to your hips and slowly lift up, keeping the length in the front and back of your torso.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Ut = intense
  • Tan = to stretch
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches hips, hamstrings, calves.
  • Reduces headaches.
  • Improves sleep.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Calms and soothes the mind.
  • Reduces fatigue and anxiety.
  • Relieves stress.


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Garudasana: Eagle Pose

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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