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Uttanasana (OO-ta-NA-sa-na) or Standing Forward Bend is the Asana / Pose that will always be special to me, since it helped me to finally touch my toes! Today we will break down the traditional expression of this pose, and perform a couple of different ways during our continued Sun Salutations practice.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to again perform the traditional Asana series –Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. Today, we will do the full series three times on each side. We will try three different variations of Uttanasana with our three repetitions. We had been focusing on breathing the last couple days. Today, since we are working on a challenging Asana, we will focus on bringing Santosha / Contentment to our Asana practice and accept where we are today without judgement. Jump to today’s variations!
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend
Feet – Your feet will stay grounded in the same spot as they were in Tadasana / Mountain Pose. Make sure your big toes are touching. If possible, make sure the back of your heels are touching. If you have a lower back injury like I do, you may find it easier to keep the heels slightly apart. Claw your toes into the mat slightly to keep your arches from falling into the mat.
Legs – Make sure your legs are comfortably straight. Perhaps keep a slight bend in the knee, or a deeper bend if you have very tight hamstrings. Always make sure you avoid hyper-extending or locking your knees in this pose!
Hips – On the EXHALE, you bend from your hips, not from your waist. Try to lift your hips/seat towards the ceiling.
Torso – Notice your bending is from the hips, not the waist. Try to focus on working your chest towards your thighs, rather than focusing on getting nose to knees.
Arms – Evaluate where you are in this pose, and arms will be placed accordingly. If you have space in this pose, you can place your palms on the ground, and press down into the ground slightly. If you have tight hamstrings and are working into the full expression of this pose, wrap your hands behind knees or shins, wherever is comfortable, and help yourself lightly pull your chest towards your legs.
Head and Neck – Keep your neck neutral, and allow your head to hang gently.
The first round, come into your standard Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend. On the next inhale, straighten your knees, press your hands into your legs/shins/ankles or perhaps a block, and straighten your back into Ardha (ARD-ha) Uttanasana / Standing Half Forward Bend. Exhale and fold back into Uttanasana. Inhale and continue into your lunge, perhaps pausing in runners lunge, and complete the Sun Salutation series on each side.
The second round, come into Uttanasana with your knees bent as much as necessary to completely rest your chest on your thighs. Tuck your chin, grab your ankles with your middle fingers pointing down to your heels, and wrap your forearms so they are as close to parallel behind your calves as possible. Now inhale, and slightly lift your hips. Take another inhale and exhale here, before moving on to lunge and complete the Sun Salutation series. OMG right?? This is a VERY deep hamstring stretch I learned in Hot Yoga, that will help you progress deeper into the traditional version of this Asana.
The last round, come into a comfortable Uttanasana for you, either traditional or with your chest resting on your thighs. This time, cross your forearms and grab each elbow/arm with the opposite hand to come into Rag Doll Pose. Hang for a couple breaths here, and breathe try to breathe into any tight spots in your hips.
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This is a great pose to try with a block or two, especially if you cannot reach the ground! Flip the blocks to the proper height to adjust for a parallel back in Half Standing Forward Bend, and a folded fully into Uttanasana!