How to do Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold

I’m really excited to share my very first blog on detailing “yoga poses.”  Since my mission here is to make yoga accessible to all, I will be offering many variations to the pose so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.  For that reason, this article will be a bit detailed.  Just a tad bit I guess…. 😉

Well, that is because I want everyone to take away something from this post – beginners, intermediate practitioners, advanced practitioners, and also yoga teachers!!!  So feel free to skip through the parts that don’t work for you, and take away pointers from the parts that do.

Here’s everything you need to know about this basic Sun Salutation Pose – Uttanasana!

I hope for everyone to take away something from this post – beginners, intermediate practitioners, advanced practitioners, and also yoga teachers!!! Click To Tweet

Commonly Used Name: 

Standing Forward Fold

Other Names: 

Standing Forward Bend, Intense Forward Fold, Intense Forward Fold Stretch

Sanskrit Name: 

Uttanasana

Sanskrit Name Breakdown: 

“Ut” means “Deliberate or Intense”

“Tana” means “Stretch”

“Asana” means “Pose”

About the Pose & It’s Benefits: 

Uttanasana can be used as a resting pose in between other standing poses, or it can be practiced as a pose in itself.  The spine receives a good stretch in this asana.  This pose can help individuals with mild anxiety or depression, as it rejuvenates the spinal nerves and brain cells.  It also slows down the heartbeat as one exhales while getting into this pose.  The practice of Uttanasana helps the body and the brain recover from mental and physical exhaustion as well.

Yes, there is a chair accessible version of this pose for my beauties who are unable to do this pose standing. Click To Tweet

Short Cues For Buzy Bees:

  • Stand tall with your feet together, or feet hip-width apart and parallel. Hands on your hips.
  • Press the feet into the earth and stand tall.
  • Exhale as you bend forward from your hips and reach the palms towards the floor on either side of your feet, or on top of blocks.
  • Draw your kneecaps up and lift your sitting bones towards the sky.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds as you take a slow deep breaths.
  • Bring your hands back to hips, lengthen your spine, and rise to standing with an inhalation.

Detailed Cues For Over Achievers:

  • Stand tall with your feet together, or feet hip-width apart and parallel.
  • Bring your hands to your hips.
  • Keep the feet active. Press them firmly into the earth, and lengthen out through the torso as you try to reach the crown of the head towards the sky.
  • Exhale as you bend forward from your hips and reach the palms towards the floor on either side of your feet, or on top of blocks. (Make sure you are bending at your hips, and not from your waist.  You want to keep your spine long as you fold forward.)
  • Lengthening the upper body over the lower body, keep the contact between the belly and the thighs. Draw the lower belly in.
  • Draw the kneecaps up to activate the legs and lift the sitting bones towards the sky.
  • Release tension from your head and neck, and soften the forehead and jaw.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds as you take a slow deep breaths. With each inhalation, draw the breath up through the legs.  And with exhalation, let the breath energy move along your spine.

IMPORTANT Modifications to the Pose:

  • USE YOUR BLOCKS – Not everyone can reach their hands down and touch the floor while keeping their legs straight. And that is totally fine!!!  Just use blocks to bring the floor closer to you.  Let the blocks become your grounding support.  And remember, your blocks have three heights.  Use the height that best suites you.

Remember, your blocks have three heights. Use the height that best suites you. Click To Tweet

  • Some of us may have back pain or injury that inhibits us from keeping our legs straight. Again – that is totally fine!!!   Bend your knees a little.  You will still be benefiting from other aspects of the pose.  You could even use blocks to support your head.

  • And here’s a chair accessible version for my beauties who are unable to do this pose “standing”.  YES, you can still do it!!!  That’s the beauty of yoga – it is for everyone!

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