Sanskrit name: Uttanasana
English name: Standing Forward Fold Pose
The Yoga pose of the month is standing forward fold pose and goes by the sanskrit name of ‘Uttanasana.’ It is a great pose to do within a yoga practice or at the end of a long day.
It can be an intense pose as you try to soften your upper body as much as possible over the strong foundation of your legs. This combination of strong and soft together is something I am currently exploring within my own yoga practice.
1. Stretches the back of your legs and hips.
2. Helps relieve stress and tension held in the body.
3. Stretches and releases the back.
4. Reduces fatigue and anxiety: can improve sleep.
5. Strengthens the front of your thighs and the knee joints.
As with the majority of yoga poses, you can adjust the pose to suit your level of experience and fitness. I also often modify the poses depending on how I am feeling on the particular day. Sometimes, you need a strong and awakening practice whilst other days, a more nourishing approach reaps more reward. For simplicity, I have listed 3 variations from easy (level 1) to hard (level 3).
Beginner: Keep your knees very soft and slowly try to just below your knees. Rest hands on your shins or some yoga blocks. This variation means that you can control how much stretch you want to feel and you can breathe into the pose feeling safe and supported. This variation is accessible if you back issues whereas the other variations should be avoided!
Intermediate: Still keep your knees soft but drape your arms down towards the floor or hold on to the opposite elbow. You can start to play with taking weight into the toes as you feel you experience more balance and control. Be sure to relax your neck so that your head naturally hangs down.
Advanced: Straighten both your legs and engage the front of your thighs, pulling both knee caps up. If you are deep in the fold, you can place either the palms or the back of your hands down on the floor on the outside of your feet. Alternatively, you can hold onto the back of the ankles to ease yourself deeper into the pose (my favourite!).
It helps with this posture to think about your sit bones lifting up to touch the ceiling and you want to tilt your pelvis forward as much as possible so the stretch is spread between the hamstrings (backs of your legs) and your lower back. If it feels very strong then don’t hold the pose, just drop into it slowly and slowly come straight back out of it until you feel ready to start holding the pose for a few breaths. You may already be practicing it in this capacity if you are doing sun salutations 🙂 If you aren’t sure how to do a simple sun salutation then here is a beginner sun salutation that you can do. Do 3-5 every day if you can, it is a wonderful way to wake your body up in the morning!
Namaste and happy practicing!