Half Standing Forward Bend  -Ardha Uttanasana

Step by step

  • Start in Standing Forward Bend / Uttanasana.
  • Root down through the feet, engage your legs, draw the lower belly in and up, and use your back muscles to bring your upper body almost parallel with the ground. 
  • Draw the shoulder blades down and create length through the spine, from the tailbone to the top of the head.
  • Place your hands on your shins, or your fingertips on the floor. You could also use blocks.
  • Look forwards keeping the back of the neck long, opening the front of the chest.

Tips for beginners

  • Bend your knees and place your hands on blocks to start with. Lengthening the spine is your main focus in the pose.
  • To experience the extension of the spine, try the pose with your hands flat against a wall (or a chair) in front of you, upper body parallel to the floor.

Benefits

  • Extends the spine.
  • Develops flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.
  • Strengthens the back and legs.

Watch out for

  • Keep the knees bent slightly if you have issues with your lower back.
  • Don't lift the head if you have neck injuries, keep your gaze to the floor or just slightly ahead.
  • Legs should be strong and active but avoid locking the knees.

Variations

  • To strengthen your back, try placing your hands in prayer position, keeping your shoulder blades down and your back muscles and belly engaged.
  • Try the twist variation: with a long spine, place your right fingertips down and rise your left arm arm, slightly bending the opposite knee. Repeat on the other side.