Stretch your back, hips, hamstrings and more with Standing Forward Bend pose.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) is a wonderful beginner-level stretch that helps to release tight hamstrings, stretch the calves and hips, prevent back pain, improve circulation, and relieve and anxiety. The pose also helps to stretch and strengthen the back muscles, and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Some also believe this pose may help with the symptoms of menopause such as headaches and mood swings, and it may also stimulate and balance the sacral chakra, maximizing creativity and enjoyment of life. So many benefits from such a simple pose – isn’t yoga amazing? 🙂
Standing Forward Bend (also sometimes called Forward Fold or Standing Forward Fold) is a fairly basic yoga pose, but many people with tight hamstrings have trouble with the pose. If you are not able to straighten your knees all the way, keeping your knees slightly bent is perfectly fine. You may also find that resting your hands on a block is helpful.
You should avoid this pose if you suffer from back or neck injuries or if you are pregnant.
Here is a step-by-step guide to Standing Forward Bend, from GotYoga.com:
Start in Mountain Pose with your hands on your hips. With an exhale, bend your upper body forward from your hip joints.
As your torso goes lower, draw in your abdominal muscles and let your chest and pubis area open.
Prioritize the lengthening of your upper body as you bend forward.
Make sure you keep your knees straight as you bend from your hip points. Bring your palms to the mat, touching it with your fingertips.
Keep your arms in front of you or beside your feet, or grasp opposite elbows and let your arms hang freely if you feel you cannot bring your hands all the way to the mat.
Deepen the pose by applying pressure onto your heels and lifting your backside towards the ceiling.
Each time you take a breath, lengthen your torso and bring your upper body closer to the final position of the forward bend.
When you slowly progress onto the forward bend, it is easier for your body to adapt and avoid any discomfort, especially when you synchronize your movements with your breathing cycle.
Allow your neck to relax and your head to hang neutrally.
Hold the pose for anywhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
The standing forward pose is commonly used as a resting position between challenging standing poses, but it can also be practiced as a standalone asana.
Release the pose by bringing your hands near your hip points and slowly pulling your torso up while keeping your spine straight.
Press forward from your tailbone to help your upper body keep its form and come back up smoothly with an exhale.
Here is a helpful 3-D rendering of the pose: