Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Intense Forward-Bending Pose, Intense Stretch Pose, Standing Head to Knees Pose
उत्तानासन / uttānāsana
पादहस्ताआसन / pādahastāāsana
uttāna: “intense stretch” or “straight” or “stretched”
Uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna) and Padahastasana (Pad-AH-has-THA-sana) stretch the hamstrings, calves and hips, and at the same time strengthen the thighs and knees.
The flexion of the spine means that space is created between each vertebra. This increases blood circulation around the spinal cord, nourishing the nerves and keeping the spine strong and supple.
In these poses, we are encouraging the flow of blood back to the brain and upper regions of the body, providing them with fresh blood and nutrients. This will improve digestion, lower high blood pressure, and help with infertility, headaches and insomnia. Digestion is also improved because these poses give a gentle massage to the internal organs.
They are also beneficial in relieving sinusitis and preventing osteoporosis.
Padahastasana also relieves carpal tunnel syndrome and increases flexibility of the wrists.
All these benefits make these poses beneficial in recovering after a strong practice of standing poses.
Standing forward extensions open up and stimulate the back body. The back body is where all the major muscles are. These muscles play a great role in supporting the spine and connecting the legs to the upper body. By strengthening the back body we gain confidence and coordination. When we understand the body better, we are able to come out of our comfort zone to practice deeper. Yoga asanas are out of our comfort zones. By regular practice we gain stability and we understand that challenges are there to push us a little further towards our goal.
Women who are pregnant or menstruating should not bend forward completely. Do Ardha Uttanasana by keeping the spine parallel to the floor and the palms on the wall to keep the abdomen soft and the back straight. Those with spine herniation should not bend forward completely, and they should do this asana with a concave back with their palms on blocks.
Going into the Pose
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).