Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Intense Forward-Bending Pose, Intense Stretch Pose, Standing Head to Knees Pose, Standing Forward Bend Pose
उत्तानासन / uttānāsana
पादहस्ताआसन / pādahastāāsana
“Uttana” (उत्तान) means “intense stretch” or “stretched out.”
“Asana” (आसन) means “pose” or “posture.”

Uttanasana At a Glance

Uttanasana is a standing forward fold and is one of the most practiced yoga poses in hatha yoga. It can be called an “intense stretch pose” or “stretched-out posture.” This pose involves standing feet wide apart and bending forward with your hands towards the floor. It is usually practiced to stretch and relax the hamstrings, spine, and lower back.


  • Strengthens the spine.
  • Loosen tight hamstrings.
  • Aids in digestion, such as constipation.
  • Relaxes facial muscles and balances hormones.
  • Increases hip flexibility.
  • It helps relieve back stiffness and neck tension.

Who can do it?

People with flexible hamstrings and wanting to relieve stress and anxiety can practice Uttanasana. The pose is especially good for people who must sit for long hours.

Who cannot do it?

People with severe back pain, high blood pressure, and conditions like glaucoma should avoid the pose or practice in front of certified yoga teachers.


Uttanasana, or standing forward fold, is composed of two words: “ut,” which means “intense,” and “tan,” which means “stretch,” so it is a deep stretch throughout the whole body. This standing forward fold opens up hips, hamstrings, and calves, including the spine. It is an amazing, intense stretch involving your entire body, from your head to your toe, with proper alignment and breathing techniques. This intense stretch pose, Uttanasana, promotes flexibility and relieves stress. It is a simple pose to learn and add to your daily routine.


Uttanasana, or standing forward fold, activates the Muladhara chakra (Root Chakra), enhancing the feelings of stability, grounding, and connection to the earth. It also stimulates Svadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra), stretching the lower back and abdomen, thus releasing tension and emotions stored in this area.


Uttanasana (standing forward fold) enhances self-awareness, inner exploration, and the pursuit of balance and unity within oneself. It offers valuable life lessons that extend beyond the yoga mat and into our daily lives. The pose teaches you that even simple things can be done for overall well-being. You do not always have to jump into complexity since it is a simple pose.

How to Do Uttanasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Begin with tadasana (mountain pose) and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale.
  • Exhaling, bend your knees and start bending forward, keeping your back straight and aligned.
  • Pull your head down, palms flat to the floor, and your head pressed down. Press the hips and try to lengthen the spine even further by proper breathing.
  • Try to straighten your legs as you fold down for a deeper stretch in the back of the legs.
  • Feel the stretch throughout the body, keep breathing, and hold the pose for a few minutes.
  • Exit the pose, keeping your spine straight, then inhaling, pull your arms to the sides with your torso back into the standing pose (tadasana).
  • Breathe deeply and hold actively for a few breaths, keeping your core engaged, shoulders relaxed, and away from your ears.

What are the Benefits of Uttanasana?

  • Uttanasana (standing forward bend) strengthens the knees and thighs and stretches the hamstrings, calf muscles and hips to improve overall flexibility.
  • The pose helps to calm the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety.
  • It helps to massage the abdominal muscles, so it aids in good digestive health.
  • It helps in good circulation towards the head, relieving headaches and neck and shoulder stiffness.
  • It improves overall blood circulation of the body and hence reduces fatigue.
  • It is good for balance and coordination.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Uttanasana

  • Standing forward fold (Uttanasana) helps relieve stiffness from tight hamstrings.
  • It aids in digestion and relieves constipation as abdominal muscles are involved.
  • Uttanasana reduces stress and anxiety due to blood circulation towards the head region in the forward fold of the pose.
  • Cure diseases like asthma, insomnia, and osteoporosis, as it open the lungs. Neurological disorders and infertility can be treated by practicing this pose.
  • Standing forward fold is very good for women during menopause as it elevates the mood and reduces hot flashes and night sweats.
  • It detoxifies the kidneys and liver.

Safety and Precautions

  • People with severe back injuries or acute back pain should avoid Uttanasana (standing forward fold).
  • If you have a hamstring injury, modify the standing forward bend pose or avoid it to prevent further strain.
  • People with uncontrolled high blood pressure should avoid Uttanasana, as the forward fold can increase blood pressure. Modify the pose or practice in front of a qualified yoga teacher.
  • People who suffer from acid reflux or heart disease should avoid the pose.
  • People with glaucoma or other eye conditions should avoid inversions like standing forward bend and Uttanasana, as it may worsen their condition.
  • Pregnant women should modify the standing forward bend pose, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
  • People with vertigo or dizziness should avoid or modify the pose to maintain balance.
  • People with acute or severe hip or knee injuries should Modify the pose or consider variations.
  • People with severe digestive issues should avoid or modify Uttanasana to prevent discomfort or worsening of the condition.
  • If you had recent abdominal, hip, or back surgery, consult your surgeon or healthcare provider before attempting a standing forward bend Uttanasana.
  • People with osteoporosis or bone-related conditions should avoid stressing the spine and hamstrings or slowly practice the standing forward bend after modification.

Beginner’s Tips

  • Start with a warm-up to prepare your body for Uttanasana since it is a deep forward bend. Perform neck, shoulder, and spine stretches to loosen up and improve flexibility.
  • Engage your thighs and lift your kneecaps to activate your legs.
  • Lift your chest and look up slightly to maintain a straight back. Rotate the pelvis forward so it is easy to do a forward fold.
  • On the exhale, hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight as you fold. Progress towards the pose with your chest and not your head. Engage your core to protect your lower back.
  • With tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to maintain a straight back and prevent strain. As you progress, work on straightening your legs.
  • Depending on your flexibility, place your hands on the floor beside your feet or hold onto your shins or ankles. Let your head hang down, allowing your neck and shoulders to relax. Release any tension in your back, neck, and shoulders. Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Focus on feeling the stretch in your hamstrings and lower back and the lengthening of your spine. Each exhalation can help you go deeper into the stretch.

Uttanasana and Breath

  • Inhale deeply, lengthen your spine and engage your core. Feel the expansion of your chest.
  • As you exhale, fold down at your hip flexors, keeping your spine straight.
  • As you fold, try to lengthen your spine by inhaling.
  • With your spine lengthened, go into a deeper fold by exhaling.
  • Inhale to maintain the length of your spine, and exhale to release any tension and fold a little deeper if possible.
  • Keep your back straight as you rise, and return to a standing position (tadasana).
  • Deep breaths promote relaxation and help release tension in the body.
  • Proper breath awareness can facilitate a more effective stretch and open the hamstrings, lower back, and spine.
  • Focusing on the breath keeps the mind present and attentive to the sensations in the body.

Physical Alignment Principles of Uttanasana

Keep your spine erect and your body relaxed during the pose. First, lengthen your spine with deep breathing and bend down with your navel pulled in. The bend should be according to your flexibility. Do not strain your body. Maintain the natural curve of your spine.


  • Ragdoll pose (Ardha Uttanasana): Start with Uttanasana and hold opposite elbows with opposite hands with your head hanging down.
  • Wide-legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana): Keep your spine straight while bending down. Bring your hands to the floor or hold your ankles.
  • One-legged forward fold (Eka Pada Uttanasana): Lift one leg back and up behind you and keep the other on the floor. Focus on balancing. The pose stretches the hamstrings of the lifted leg.
  • Forward Fold with clasped hands: Interlace your hands behind your back and try to straighten your hands. Lift and open the chest.
  • Forward Fold with a twist: While in forward fold, place one hand on the floor and twist the upper body towards the ceiling. Repeat by switching sides.
  • Chair forward bend (Utkatasana Uttanasana Variation): Begin with the chair pose (utkatasana), then fold forward with your chest towards your thigh.
  • Forward fold with shoulder opener: Clasp both hands behind your back while folding down. Extend your arms overhead, lifting them away from your back. Open your shoulder.
  • Fingertip forward fold: While folding down, keep your fingertips on the floor, not the palms.
  • Using Props: You can modify the pose with yoga blocks under your hands. This variation is useful for beginners.
  • Supported forward fold: You can rest your head under a yoga block instead of hanging it towards the floor.
  • Hands-to-feet pose (Padahastasana): While folding down, slide your hands under your feet with your toes touching your wrists and palms facing up. This is a very deep stretch to the wrist and forearms.
  • Hoping in and out of Uttanasana: You can add a dynamic flow by bending your knees and hopping forward and backward, keeping the forward fold position.

Follow-Up Poses

Counter Poses

Deepening the Stretch

  • Ensure your weight is evenly distributed on both legs and your spine elongated.
  • Slowly straighten your legs, engage your quadriceps and lift your kneecaps to activate your thighs.
  • Start folding down involving your hips and not your waist. Keep your back straight and hips backward.
  • With tight hamstrings or hip joints, you can bend your knees till you feel a good stretch on your hamstrings.
  • Modify or use yoga blocks if needed. You can use more than one yoga block to raise the level of the floor and gradually decrease it.
  • Once you can touch the floor, aim to hold onto your ankles, shins or even big toes.
  • Cross your wrists, hold the opposite elbows, and let your head hinge down.
  • Proper breathing can deepen the pose by touching your chest with your thighs.
  • Focus on deep breathing to deepen the pose and release any tension in the body. Progress gradually towards the final pose, holding it for every stretch and coordinating with your breath.
  • You can include variations to target different muscle groups and stretch further. Practice regularly to deepen the standing forward fold pose.

Common Mistakes

Keep your back straight while moving down towards the floor. Try to straighten your legs to get the maximum stretch. With a tight hamstring, bend your knees slightly. Modify the pose with yoga blocks for deep stretches in the pose. Do not hurry to hold on to your ankle or big toe. Progress slowly with breathing. While folding forward, work on opening your chest and avoid locking your knees. Keep doing deep breathing for every stretch to relax and unfold.

Preparatory Poses


Which muscles are used in Uttanasana (Standing forward fold)?

The hamstring, Glutei, and back muscles are used in Uttanasana.

What is the primary movement of Uttanasana?

Uttanasana is a forward fold pose.

Is Uttanasana an inversion?

Forward fold (Uttanasana) is an inversion pose where the head is below the heart, and the brain receives an increased supply of oxygenated blood.

What is the difference between Uttanasana and Pada hastasana?

Uttanasana is a basic forward fold, while Padahastasana is placing your hands under your feet.

How many times should we do Uttanasana?

Depending on your comfort level, you can practice the pose 5-6 times or 3-4 times.

Take Away

Uttanasana is a great pose to incorporate regularly into your daily yoga practice to deepen mindfulness and relieve tension since it is a full-body stretch. It is a simple pose to start with yoga and is an essential part of sun salutation (Surya Namaskar). Practice Uttanasana mindfully and with body awareness, with gentle stretch, honoring your body’s capabilities and limits, and seeking guidance from a qualified yoga teacher.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.


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