Half Forward Bend, Standing
ARDHA UTTĀNĀSANA (अर्ध उत्तानासन)
(AR-dhuh OOT-ta-NAAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Ardha’= half, ‘Uttāna’= intense stretch, extended, straight, or stretched, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Half Standing Forward Fold Pose
Half Way Lift Pose
Monkey Pose
Flat Back Pose
Half Fold Pose
Upward Forward Fold Pose (Urdhva Uttanasana)

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

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. Root down through your feet, placing your weight into your heels to ground yourself. Make sure not to lock your knees.
2. Take a deep breath and lift your arms over your head. Lift your torso, and exhale, as you bend from the hips, half way down toward the floor, pulling your hips up and drawing your abdomen to the spine. Gaze down as you bring your arms down so that your hands rest on your shins. Be sure not to lock your elbows. Alternatively, you can either keep your arms extended out past your ears, parallel to the floor, with your palms facing each other, or you can touch your fingertips to the floor.
3. Keep your back straight, with your shoulder blades flat and your hips over your ankles. Engage your core and quadriceps for balance as you lengthen through the back to the crown of the head. Make sure to keep the neck soft and aligned with the spine.
4. Hold for several breaths, breathing smoothly. (Hold for 20 seconds to increase strength and flexibility.)
5. When ready, slowly release and come back to Mountain Pose (Tadasana).

Common Adjustments
• Bending from the back instead of the hips
• Neck and shoulders strained
• Shoulders hunched
• Chest collapsed
• Hips not in line with ankles
• Forcing the stretch
• Unbalanced
• Legs not far enough apart
• Elbows locked
• Knees locked
• Hands on knees
• Toes not facing forward with knees
• Gaze up

Modifications
• For students with tight hamstrings, they can either: a) place their hands on blocks, b) bend their knees, or c) practice with their hands on a wall, chair, or stool.
• Students who have back strain or a rounded back can slightly widen their stance or use a block. They can also place their hands on their hips.
• For students who need assistance with balance and alignment, have them practice with their buttock against a wall, or place a block between the lower thighs. They can also practice seated in a chair.
• Students who feel too much pressure under the feet can place a blanket or folded mat under the feet to reduce the pressure on the soles of the feet.
• Students who are pregnant (after second trimester), should practice Forward Bend, Standing Wide Leg (Prasarita Padottanasana) with props and guidance.
• For advanced students that want to increase the stretch, place a folded blanket or mat under the balls of the feet.

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• Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the abdomen, entire back, spine, hips, glutes, hamstrings, knees, calf muscles, ankles, 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.
• 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 a weak liver or kidneys.
• Stimulates the reproductive and endocrine systems.
• 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 should avoid this pose. If a student wants to perform this pose, it should be done with props, modifications, and guidance.
3. Do not do this pose if your student has severe lower back, hip, or knee injuries.
4. 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.

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 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.

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