The name Uttanasana comes from the Sanskrit words Uttan (Ud-tana). Ud is a prefix which means ‘of the highest rank’ and tana means ‘stretched’. Therefore, Uttan means an intense stretch. The Uttanasana or the Standing Forward Bend Pose refers to an intense stretching of the complete back of the body, including the tendon at the back of the knee (called the hamstring).
There are numerous health benefits of the Uttanasana.
Since it is a pose involving intense stretch, so it stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips and strengthens the knees and thighs. It is said to stimulate the liver and kidneys and acts as a therapy for patients of asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, sinusitis and infertility. This asana makes us drop our head below the level of our heart which calms the brain and as a result relieves stress and anxiety. It improves impaired digestion and provides relief from headache and insomnia.
Getting into pose
What you need: Fresh air – be it outdoors or indoors.
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Initial Position: Tadasana (Mountain pose)
Drishti or Gaze: While performing Uttanasana, concentrate your gaze in front.
- Begin performing this asana by taking the Mountain pose, i.e., keep your hands over your hips.
- Lengthen the front of your torso, by bending forward at the hips. Exhale as you do this.
- Bend your elbows slightly and let your head hang down. Press your heels onto the floor as you lift your bottom towards the sky. Take care to not lock your knees.
- Place your palms on the floor, right by the side of your feet. Press your palms on the mat. If your body’s flexibility permits you, you can place your palms even on the back of your ankles.
- Keep your hips aligned to your ankles and try to put all your weight on the balls of the feet.
- Hold this pose for about a minute.
- Place your hands on your hips when starting to release this pose. Straighten your back gradually, inhale and return to Tadasana. Repeat 5-6 times and relax.
Following are a few variations of this pose:
- If you have issues with balance as you perform the aasana, start with your feet hip-distance apart or even wider.
- Pregnant women should stand with their feet as wide apart as required and should take care to not compress the belly while bending forward.
- Deepen the stretch by elevating the balls of your feet. This can be done by placing a towel or blanket under the feet balls.
If you feel that your hamstrings are not very loose, try bending your knees while performing this pose. Also, if your back rounds, bend your knees deeper.
- To avoid the risk of a back injury, do this pose with bent knees or perform Ardha Uttanasana.
- Fold from the hips, strictly not from the waist.
- Align your ankles, knees and hips in order to distribute weight correctly. Avoid placing all or too much weight on the heels.
- Half Forward Bend Pose (Ardha Uttanasana)
- Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
- Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Last Updated: June 20, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: August 20, 2014