Standing Forward Bend  -Uttanasana

Step by step

  • Start in Tadasana/Mountain pose.
  • Inhale as you raise your arms.
  • As you exhale, engage your thighs, pull the belly in and up deep from the pelvic floor and bend forward, hinging from the hips. 
  • Place your hands/fingertips on the floor, in front of your feet or next to your feet, or hold onto the back of your ankles or calves.
  • Keep your hips over your heels as you press your heels into the floor. Roll the top of your inner thighs slightly in. 
  • Let your head hang, keeping the neck relaxed.
  • Lengthen your spine as you inhale. Soften deeper into the pose as you exhale.

Beginners' tips

  • Bend your knees to maintain length in your spine.
  • Internally rotating your thighs will help you to spread your sitting bones, giving you more room to fold.

Benefits

  • Stretches the back of the legs, the hips and spine.
  • Strengthens the legs, thighs and knees.
  • Balances the nervous system, calms the mind.
  • Improves digestion, stimulates the liver and kidneys.
  • Can relieve tension in the lower back when practised with bent knees.

Watch out for

  • Prioritize length in your front body over depth in the pose.
  • Bend your knees if you feel any discomfort in your lower back.
  • If you have any back injuries please check with your health professional before practising forward bends. You may need to modify or avoid them depending on your individual condition.

Variations

  • You can also practise a Rag Doll version of forward bend:
  • Keeping the legs straight or slightly bent, allow the back to relax and round. Let your head be heavy.
  • Either allow your hands to rest on the floor or cross your arms hooking each hand in the opposite elbow crease.
  • From here you might like to sway from side to side.