Standing forward

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(uttanasana)

Standing Forward Bend stretches the entire back of your body, with an emphasis on stretching the back of your legs. This basic standing forward bend is often used as a resting pose between other standing poses.

Relaxing your head and neck toward the floor and lengthening your spine in this pose helps to release any tension in your upper body. Releasing tension in your upper body can help clear your mind, reduce fatigue and relieve stress.

If you find you cannot place your palms on the floor

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in this pose, hang your arms loosely from your shoulders or bend your knees until you can touch the floor. Do not try to force your palms to the floor as you may strain your lower back. You should also try to keep your hips directly over your knees while performing the pose and avoid locking your knees.

Take caution performing Standing Forward Bend if you suffer from high blood pressure, lower back problems or headaches. If you become dizzy easily, be sure to come out of the pose very slowly.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Inhale as you stretch your arms above your head with your palms facing each other.

Stretch your entire body toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders relaxed.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keeping the soles of your feet pressed evenly into the floor.

Relax your head and neck toward the floor and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

Place your palms on the floor on either side of your feet.

What should I do if the back of my legs feel strained while performing Standing Forward Bend?

If the back of your legs feel strained, you should keep your back flat, bend your knees and rest your hands on your thighs to perform the pose. As you gain flexibility, you can straighten your knees a little more each time you perform the pose. This modification is useful if you have high blood pressure, since your head stays above the level of your heart.

Can I perform Standing Forward Bend if I have lower back problems?

If you have lower back problems, you may want to perform a modified version of the pose. Perform the pose as described in the steps below, except rest your upper body on a table with your arms stretching forward across the table. You should still feel a stretch along the back of your legs while performing this modification. You can also perform Downward-Facing Dog Pose instead. For information on Downward-Facing Dog Pose, see page 188.

Exhale as you stretch the back of your legs and press your feet into the floor.

• Make sure your hips are directly above your knees and your knees are not locked.

• Visualize your torso lengthening toward the floor with each breath.

Hold the pose for 10 seconds to 1 minute.

Come Out of the Pose

Inhale as you bend your knees and slowly roll up to a standing position, pressing the soles of your feet evenly into the floor.

Return to Mountain Pose.

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