Yoga Poses

Standing Forward Bend Uttanasana

Steps

Starting in Mountain pose, place the hands on the hips. Inhale and lift the torso. While exhaling, fold forward from the hips, keeping the back straight and the knees soft. As the torso folds toward the ground, shift the hips up and back so the sitz bones point upward. Bring the hands to the mat and release the head and neck so they hang loosely. To exit the pose, soften the knees, place the hands on the hips and raise the torso in the same extended manner in which it was lowered.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

Imagine a chain pulling the crown of the head up toward the ceiling and extending the spine before folding forward.

Technical Comments

Start with the weight in the heels. As the body bends forward, transfer the weight to the balls of the feet and engage the quadriceps. Fold from the hip joints while elongating the spine. Avoid folding from the waist or lower back.

Benefit Comments

  • Stretches hamstrings
  • Aids digestion
  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces headaches

Watch Out For:

  • Tight hamstrings (bend knees to alleviate)
  • Imbalance (widen stance to help with balance issues)
  • Back pain or over-extension

Contraindications

  • Injury to the spine or back
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimester)

Modifications

  • Rest hands upon a block.
  • Fold arms and hold on to opposite elbows while in forward bend.
  • Hold the back of the ankles for a deeper stretch.
  • Lift heels on a folded blanket to increase hamstring stretch.

Variations

  • Bend knees while in the forward bend.
  • Stop folding forward when the back is parallel to the floor and rest hands on the thighs in a Half Forward Bend.
  • Widen stance for a Wide-Legged Forward Bend.

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Upward Salute
  • Half Moon/Reed

Written By: Kristen Porter

Kristen Porter is a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher, studio owner (www.ovcyoga.com), corporate attorney, wife and mom. Her passion is helping people realize their true strength and inner light by sharing wisdom learned through yoga, meditation and incorporating positive changes in her own life.

Return to Yoga Pose Directory