The standing forward bend, or ‘Uttanasana’, is one of the basic forward bends that can bring about an intense stretch to the legs and spine. This yoga pose can be done on its own, or practiced between standing poses if needs be. It has wonderful recuperative benefits and is great stretch for the hamstrings, calves and hips, while also stimulating the liver and kidney areas. It is recommended for the relief of symptoms of the menopause and of menstruation. It can also help to reduce fatigue and anxiety.
Basic forward bend
If you suffer from any back complaints, bend the knees and rest the hands on a chair or wall in front of the torso.
- Stand on your yoga mat and step the feet 1 to 1.5 feet apart.
- Exhale, extend the trunk forward and down.
- Place the fingertips on the floor in line with the ankle bone, keeping the arms and legs as straight as comfortable here.
- Inhale and concave the back, then lift the head and look up. Aim to make the back concave in such a way that the spinal muscles spread to the sides of the trunk.
- Exhale, take the trunk down, flexing the elbows out to the sides.
- Lengthening the neck take the head towards the shin bones.
- Inhale, straighten the arms, concave the back and come back to stand.
For a more challenging version of this pose, keep the feet together
- Stand on your yoga mat with big toes and inner ankles touching.
- Exhale, extend the trunk forward and down, lengthening the waist.
- Place the finger tips on the floor under the shoulders, keeping the elbows straight.
- Inhale lift the chest, raise the head, concave the back and look up.
- Exhale, bending the elbows take the head down, trunk towards the thighs, keep the waist long.
- Inhale, lift the chest, concave the back and pressing the tailbone down and into the pelvis, come on up to stand.
- If you feel you need a little more stretch and opening in the back of the legs, try doing the pose with the balls of the feet slightly elevated off the yoga mat, you can use a thick book to place under the balls of the feet.
Lee Kennedy qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit Yogadara.com or call 0863906343 for more information.