Forward Bend, Standing
UTTĀNĀSANA (उत्तानासन)
(OOT-ta-NAAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Uttāna’= intense stretch, extended, straight, or stretched, ‘āsana’= posture
‘Ut’= intense, ‘tan’= to stretch, lengthen, or extend, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Intense Forward-Bending Pose
Intense Forward Stretch Pose
Intense Stretch Pose
Stretched Out Pose
Standing Forward Bend Pose
Standing Forward Fold Pose
Standing Head to Knees Pose
Hand to Leg Pose
Gorilla Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Forward-Bend / Stretch / Standing / Inversion

1. Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your legs hip distance apart, your back straight, your shoulders and arms down, and your palms facing forward.
2. Root down through your feet, placing your weight into your heels to ground yourself. Make sure not to lock your knees.
3. Take a deep breath and lift your arms over your head.
4. Lift your torso, and exhale, as you start tilting your hips to bend from your hips down toward the mat. Transfer some of your weight to the balls of your feet. Keep your back straight and engage your core and quadriceps for balance.
5. As you continue to bend forward, press your hips up while drawing your abdomen to your spine and lengthening through your back. Drop the crown of your head toward the ground, keeping your neck soft and aligned with your spine.
6. Bring your nose/forehead to your knees and rest your hands by your feet on the mat. For alternate variations, touch your fingertips to the floor, grab your big toes, place your hands behind your ankles, walk your hands under your feet with the palms face up until your toes reach the wrists, place your fingers under your heels, fold your arms around the back of your legs holding onto the opposite elbows (or front of the opposite ankle), fold your arms and hold opposite elbows in front of your legs, or rotate your shoulders so that your arms are parallel to the floor behind your head, with your hands clasped in Venus Lock. In all variations, make sure to keep the shoulder blades flat to the back.
7. Hold for several breaths, breathing smoothly. (Hold for 20 seconds to increase strength and flexibility.)
8. When ready, slowly release and come back to Mountain Pose (Tadasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck and shoulders strained
• Shoulder blades not drawn together
• Folding at the waist and lower back instead of the hips
• Tailbone drawn up
• Forcing stretch
• Unbalanced
• Legs not hips distance apart
• Legs too far apart
• Knees locked or Knees overly bent

Modifications
• For students with tight hamstrings and/or their back is not strong enough for a full bend, either: a) place blocks under the hands, b) have the student bend their knees, or c) have them practice Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana) with the option to place the hands on a wall, chair, or stool if needed.
• Students who have a rounded back can slightly widen their stance or use a block.
• For students who need assistance with balance and alignment, they can either: a) practice with their back or legs against a wall, b) place a block between their lower thighs, or c) practice seated in a chair.
• Students who feel too much pressure under the feet can place a blanket or folded mat under their feet.
• Students with high blood pressure or have trouble bending their head to the floor can either: a) practice Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana), b) place a chair or stool with a cushion on it in front to support the head or hands, or c) place their hands on the wall.
• Pregnant students, after second Trimester, should practice Forward Bend, Standing Wide Leg (Prasarita Padottanasana with props and guidance.
• Advanced students can place a folded blanket or mat under the balls of their feet to deepen the stretch.

Counter Poses
• Palm Tree Pose (Urdhva Hastotanasana)
• Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
• Cobra (Bhujangasana)
• Bow (Dhanurasana)
• Camel (Ustrasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Minor)• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Abdomen (Core)• Upper (Cervical) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Psoas Major and Iliopsoas)• Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus (Glutes)
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles, knees, and ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the abdomen, entire back, spine, hips, glutes, hamstrings, knees, calf muscles, ankles, ankle joints, and feet making these areas more flexible – also opens the hips and groin.
• Massages digestive and pelvic organs, which improves colon function and digestion, as well as soothes constipation, stomach pains, or abdominal ailments. Stimulates the reproductive and endocrine systems.
• Improves posture and spinal alignment as well as soothes Upper and Middle back stiffness.
• Stimulates the nervous system which calms the brain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as relieves mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue. This helps to boost energy.
• Improves blood circulation and soothes headaches and/or migraines along with menstrual and menopausal discomfort. This also stimulates the kidneys, liver, and spleen, as well as is therapeutic for students with weak liver or kidneys.
• Therapeutic for students with high blood pressure, asthma, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.

Contraindications
1. Students who have difficulty bending their backs or are pregnant (after second Trimester), should use caution and practice with modifications, props, and guidance.
2. Students with injury to the neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings, knees and/or hips or has weak hips and/or glutes should avoid this pose. Students, with rheumatoid arthritis and a fever, should avoid this pose.
3. Students with a headache or migraine, severe abdominal ailments, indigestion, diarrhea, severe joint pain, knee pain, back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis or low/high blood pressure should avoid this pose. If a student wants to perform this pose, it should be done with props, modifications, and guidance.
4. Students with glaucoma should avoid this pose. If done, only hold for a short time with modifications.
5. If a student feels discomfort in this pose, they should stop immediately. Do not force this stretch.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 7 – Standing Postures as “Uttanasana – Intense Forward Bend”.
    • Watch the Chapter 7 video “Uttanasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in CHAPTER 8 – STANDING POSES as “UTTANASANA – Standing Forward Bend”.

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