PS is practicing yoga since the age of 11. Her yoga retreats in India have helped her gain deep insights into self-awareness.
Uttanasana is a Sanskrit word for ‘Standing Forward Bend Pose’. The word ‘Uttana’ means ‘deep stretch’ and ‘Asana’ refers to ‘pose’.
Uttanasana’s original description is available in Sritattvanidhi. Though the modern pose is described in Krishnamacharya’s Yoga Makaranda. This asana can be performed in several different forms as well which we’ll discuss later in this article. First, why you should practice this asana?
Why you should practice Uttanasana?
Uttanasana, the intense stretch pose, comes with the following benefits:
- Stretches hips, calves, and hamstrings
- Relieves tensed muscles
- Aides digestive organs
- Activates liver and kidneys functioning
- Builds stronger thighs and knees
- Reduces menstrual pain
- Cures asthma and high blood pressure
- Boosts height-related hormones in adolescents
- Reduces thigh fat
- Initiates chakra energies
- Prevents bone weakness
The asana is of intermediate level. It should be performed only if you have good flexibility to avoid any strain.
How to practice Uttanasana?
You should start Uttanasana after practicing basic yoga poses including Pranayama. Here are the steps to follow:
- Stand straight on your mat
- Keep the normal gap between two legs
- Inhale deeply, then exhale and bend forward from the hip joints
- As you bend forward, the pressure lies on the strengthening of the front torso
- Keep your knees straight
- Place your fingertips or palms on the floor or to the back of your ankles
- Stretch from the hip bone (if you feel your lower back is stretching more, then your pose is wrong)
- Root yourself into your heels and turn the thighs towards inside for better alignment
- Stay in the pose for at least a minute depending on your strength
- To release the pose, inhale, place your hands on your hips and rise slowly
- While standing straight, don’t roll the spine and focus on strengthening the length of the front torso
This intermediate-level asana requires intense stretch due to which if you have any of the following problems, you must avoid practicing it:
- Lower back injury or pain
- Slipped disc
- High blood pressure
- Spine herniation
How to practice Uttanasana?
Variations in Uttanasana
The beauty of Uttanasana is it can be performed in standing as well as leaning positions. Each asana has similar benefits but different names. Here are the different types of variations of Uttanasana:
1. Ardha Uttanasana
The asana is also called Standing Half Forward Bend Pose. Here are the steps:
- From Uttanasana, press your fingertips or palms on the floor near your feet
- Inhale and strengthen your elbows away from your thighs
- Stretch as much you can from pubic bone to the navel
- Push your fingertips or palms against the floor
- Try to keep the knees straight, a slight bend is fine though
- Look straight, but don’t compress the back of your neck
- Stay in the position for a few seconds
- Exhale and move your pose back to Uttanasana
2. Niralamba Uttanasana
In this Niralamba Uttanasana, hands are placed on the waistband instead of reaching down. An advanced variation is called Niralamba Baddha Eka Pada Uttanasana. In this asana, either of the legs is stretched upward, then pulled downward by both the hands unless the heel of your leg touches your hip.
From Uttanasana, place the hands under the feet and forehead between the knees. Take deep breaths and maintain the pose at least for a minute depending on your level of comfort.
Paschimottanasana is quite similar to Uttanasana except that it is practiced in a seating position. Here are the steps:
- Sit with the erect spine on your mat
- Stretch your legs straight
- Slowly bend forward and touch your knees with your hands
- Bend a little more and touch your toes with your hands
- Place your elbows at the side of your knees
- Place your nose or forehead on your knees
If you have asthma or back problems, then avoid practicing Paschimottanasana.
You may find it a little difficult to touch your toes with your hands in the beginning. But with practice, your back will be accustomed to the intense stretch and you can successfully perform the asana.
5. Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana
Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana is an advanced variation of Paschimottanasana. If you can successfully practice Paschimottanasana and Uttanasana, then you can manage to perform this asana as well.
Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana is a balancing pose. In this, you need to maintain the Paschimottanasana form while pointing your legs and hands upwards.
Uttanasana and the Activation of Chakras
The intense stretch required in Uttanasana and its variations can help you activate your six chakras from the lowest one, Muladhara (the root chakra) to Vishuddhi (the throat chakra).
The level of balance required in maintaining the pose keeps the vital points of your body in line. This initiates a continuous flow of energy and blood circulation in a single line both downward and upward. Hence, the stretch helps you activate your important energetic points (chakras).
Practice basic yoga poses beforehand to attain a fully perfect stretch in Uttanasana.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Prachi Sharma