A full-body stretch that will help you improve your mobility and balance, and prevent pain.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) Step-By-Step Guide
Start by entering in the Mountain pose with your hands on your hips. With an exhale, bend your upper body forward from your hip joints.
As your torso goes lower, draw in your abdominal muscles and let your chest and pubis area open.
Prioritize the lengthening of your upper body as you get closer to the standing forward bend.
Make sure you keep your knees straight as you bend from your hip points. Bring your palms to the mat, touching it with your fingertips.
Keep your arms in front of you or beside your feet and cross your elbows if you feel you cannot bring your arms forward.
Deepen the pose by applying pressure onto your heels and lifting your backside towards the ceiling.
Each time you take a breath, lengthen your torso and bring your upper body closer to the final position of the forward bend.
When you slowly progress onto the forward bent, it is easier for your body to adapt and avoid any discomfort, especially when you synchronize your movements with your breathing cycle.
Allow your neck to relax and your head to hang neutrally.
Hold the pose for anywhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
The standing forward pose is commonly used as a resting position between challenging standing poses, but it can also be practiced as a standalone asana.
Release the pose by bringing your hands near your hip points and slowly pulling your torso up while keeping your spine straight.
Press on your tailbone to help your upper body keep its form and come back up smoothly with an exhale.
See below for a video tutorial:
Standing Forward Fold Common Mistakes
There are a few common mistakes that can damage your form and reduce the benefits that the standing forward pose has to offer.
To find out how to avoid the most common pitfalls, read on.
Bending from the Waist
When you bend from your waist instead of your hip points, you create more distance between your abdominal area and your legs.
As you try to bring your torso to your legs you will find it almost impossible, and your back will be overworked as well.
This happens because the human body is not meant to “fold” from the waist area but from the hip points.
When your knees are locked, it is harder for your body to maintain its balance and mobility. As a consequence, you will find it harder to bend your torso without tipping over.
To fix this, keep your knees engaged yet relaxed.
Your Gaze Is Forward
When your gaze is forward, it is more difficult for you to keep your upper body folded and close to your legs.
Instead, let your head hang from the root of your neck and look behind you at your legs as your head faces down.
Beginner’s Tip For Standing Forward Bend
Start with a quick warm up before you try this pose, and avoid spicy foods that may impact your digestive system.
You can also bend your knees while holding the standing forward pose to make it gentler on your joints.
If you need to deepen or adjust the standing forward to your needs, try a variation.
Whether you are a beginner or you just want a more challenging version of the pose, you will find what you need in the following sections.
Grab Your Elbows
Start by standing in the classic standing forward pose, with your toes touching or a few inches apart.
In this variation, you have the option to bend your knees if this makes you feel more comfortable. Allow your neck to hang down and fully relax as you grab your right elbow with the opposite hand and your left elbow with its opposite as well.
As you hold your elbows, allow the weight of your upper body to sink your head between your shoulder blades, which will come towards you ears.
This variation is helpful for Yoga practitioners who feel tension and tiredness in their upper back muscles.
The gentle pull from your arms and the calming effect that your neck will experience is going to work your tensed muscles and relax your overly-engaged ones.
If you are working a sedentary job, this variation was made you.
Hold Your Palms in a Prayer
This variation works best if you already have a strong back and good balance.
Start in the classic standing forward pose with your feet touching. Allow your head to hang down from the root of your neck.
Next, bring your arms together, facing each other at knee-level and hold them in a prayer position.
This variation will help you strengthen your back and arms without making you sweat. Practiced regularly, it can also help you build more strength.
Improving mobility in your shoulder blades is another advantage the pose variation provides.
Raise Your Arms in a Clasp
Start by holding the classic version of Uttanasana with your knees bent and your toes close to each other.
Next, raise your hands up and make your fingers meet and interlace with each other above your head at the level of your hips.
Feel free to either use your fingers to point forward or keep them folded in.
This variation is going to help you open your chest area and engage your shoulder blades as well.
Bend Your Knees
Many beginners have issues getting into the final position of the pose because there is too much pressure on their knees. To fix this, you can always bend your knees from your hips as you bend forward.
This variation will help you build enough flexibility without the risk of injuries.
Use a Yoga Block
If you have issues bending forward until you reach the mat with your fingers, you can place a Yoga block in front of you.
Instead of fully bending towards the floor, rest with your hands on the Yoga block.
This variation is quite useful between challenging standing poses when you want a moment of rest while stretching.
For another variation that requires extra mobility, check out this article on yoga.org.nz
Benefits of Standing Forward Fold
There are many benefits to the standing forward pose, including stretching your hips, calves, and hamstring as well as building strength and reducing the effects of a number of diseases like osteoporosis and asthma.
On top of all this, it has even more benefits – helps relieve stress, anxiety and the symptoms of menopause, including headaches and mood swings.
It is no surprise that this gentle back stretch helps relieve the symptoms of one of the most common spine diseases in the elderly and women.
When you challenge certain areas of your body, they become stronger. Working the back muscles and lengthening the spine helps your bone structure as well.
Reduces Menopause Symptoms
Headaches and mood swings are among the most common menopause symptoms, and they can be relieved by poses that improve blood flow.
When estrogen levels drop, the circulatory system loses its effectiveness, which is why older women are more prone to heart disease.
The standing forward pose can help you improve your circulation and help your body work like it used to.
Stretches Arms, Hamstrings, Calves, and Back
Stretching can prevent and treat stiffness and pain.
When your muscles are relaxed, your body is more energized and your posture will not suffer. But when your muscles are stiff, pain and lack of mobility kick in.
The standing forward pose can help you out by giving you a full-body stretch without making you sweat.
The Standing Forward Pose and Sacral Chakra
Associated with creativity, emotions and sensuality, the sacral chakra is the one responsible with your playfulness and ability to enjoy life.
The standing forward pose stimulates the sacral chakra and can assist you in your relationships. It also maximizes your creativity and helps you enjoy the simple pleasures of everyday life.
The Uttanasana is recommended when your sacral chakra levels are on the low end.
The low end is characterized by a love for routine and a fear of stepping outside your boundaries. Other symptoms include a lack of creativity and a difficulty to let yourself go and laugh at yourself.
If you often find yourself obsessed with your image and losing control of the things around you, then you most likely have a weak sacral chakra.
However, the sacral chakra must be balanced. If you have too much of it, it can also damage your quality of life.
An overactive sacral chakra is characterized by immaturity, chaotic relationships, and a continuous search for pleasure with a disregard to other people’s feelings.
If you believe you are on the low end, the standing forward pose can help you balance your sacral chakra. But if you are on the high end, you should avoid any asanas that stimulate this energetic point.
Avoid the standing forward pose if you suffer from neck or back injuries as well as if you are pregnant.
Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!
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