Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Intense Forward-Bending Pose, Intense Stretch Pose, Standing Head to Knees Pose
Sanskrit
उत्तानासन / uttānāsana
पादहस्ताआसन / pādahastāāsana
Pronunciation
OOT-tan-AHS-ahna
Pad-AH-has-THA-sana
Meaning
uttāna: “intense stretch” or “straight” or “stretched”
pāda: foot
hastā: hand
āsana:  “posture”

Introduction

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.

Yoga may be an effective way for athletes to improve their balance and flexibility. The results of this study suggest as much, with yogis demonstrating improved measures in these two specific components after only 10 weeks!

Muscle Focus

Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend focuses on several muscles such as

  • Hamstrings
  • Back muscles
  • Quadriceps Muscles
  • Calf Muscles
  • Pelvic Muscles
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Arms muscles

Ideal For Health Conditions

  • Helps to increase the range of motion.
  • Stretches the hamstrings which tend to get tight.
  • Stretches back muscles.
  • Improves digestion by stimulation of digestive organs.

Benefits of Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend

1. Helps to Keep the Spine Strong and Supple

The flexion of the spine in Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend 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.

2. Stretches Hamstrings, Calves, and Hips

Uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna) and Padahastasana (Pad-AH-has-THA-sana) stretch the hamstrings, calves, and hips. Releasing these muscles helps to alleviate pain in the lower back and legs.

3. Strengthens Thighs and Knees

The action of Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend also strengthens the muscles around the thighs and knees. This can help to prevent injuries in these areas.

4. Strengthens Thighs and Knees

The poses also strengthen the thighs and knees. By pulling the knee caps up towards the pelvis in Uttanasana, we can help to prevent injuries in these areas.

5. Improves Digestion

The flow of blood back to the brain and upper regions of the body in Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend is beneficial for improved digestion. The gentle massage that these poses give to the internal organs also helps with digestion.

6. Good for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Padahastasana also relieves carpal tunnel syndrome and increases the flexibility of the wrists. This can help people who suffer from this condition to perform everyday activities with less pain.

7. Good for Headaches and Insomnia

The improved blood circulation in Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend is also beneficial for headaches and insomnia. The increased circulation can help to ease tension headaches and promote deeper sleep.

8. Relieves Sinusitis

The inverted position of Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend helps to relieve sinusitis. The flow of blood and lymphatic fluid is encouraged in this pose, which can help to clear the sinuses.

9. Prevents Osteoporosis

All these benefits make these poses beneficial in recovering after a strong practice or as part of a regular routine to prevent osteoporosis.

10.  Counterbalances Backbends

Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend also counterbalances backbends. When we practice backbends compress, we tend to the spine. Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend helps to open up the spine and decompress it.

Contraindications

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.

Variations

  • Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
  • Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Halfway Fold Pose)

Preparatory Pose

  • Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Halfway Fold Pose)
  • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

Beginner’s Tips

  • If you find it difficult to touch your forehead to knees, then start by bending your knees a little more.
  • You can also place your hands on your thighs and slowly start to straighten your legs.
  • Make sure not to strain your spine while doing this pose.

How to do Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend

  • We will start with Tadasana (Mountain Pose) keeping the legs straight and at a distance of 2-3 inches from each other, keeping your feet parallel to each other. Contract your thigh muscles (quads) and lift your kneecaps upward.
  • Take a deep breath and lift your arms up overhead, stretching the spine completely up.
  • Now, with exhale bend forward and touch the forehead to knees with straight knees (without hyperextension) keeping the crown of your head towards the toes.
  • You may place your palms by the side of your body if your body allows you.
  • Take deep breaths in this position for 15 seconds (or as long as you can).
  • Now, inhale again and come back

Mental Benefits of Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend

  • Calms the mind
  • Eases anxiety
  • Focuses the mind
  • Improves concentration

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend is a pose with many benefits. It stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens the thighs and knees; improves digestion; helps relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and insomnia; and prevents osteoporosis. These benefits make it a pose that is beneficial for all levels of students, from beginner to advanced.

1 sources
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728955/
Meera Watts
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).

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