Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend

Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend

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.


Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee Pose

Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     PREP POSES    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Janu sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), may look simple, but it combines elements of a forward fold, twist, and side body stretch. Head to knee pose stretches the hamstrings, low back, and groins and can be adjusted to be very challenging or very relaxing.

Philosophy + Origin

While the name of the pose may seem to reveal an intention based on physical anatomy (head to knee pose), janu sirsasana is really all about turning inward and creating space for self-reflection. Instead of focusing on the intensity of the posture — or a desire to bring your head to your knee — turn your attention to the peace and stillness that may be hiding beneath the more prominent sensations.

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