Yoga Challenge – Sun Salutations Poses: Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Uttanasana - standing forward bend pose - yoga pose yoga girl wearing black doing yoga outside in the rocky mountains
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend

Happy Day 16 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Uttanasana

Good morning Yogis! We are continuing our detailed breakdown of each of the poses in the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. Today we are covering Uttanasana.

Sun Salutations Poses: Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

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 Positive Practice suggestion

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

Uttanasana - standing forward bend pose - yoga pose yoga girl wearing black doing yoga outside in the rocky mountains
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend

How to do Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) with proper alignment from bottom to top

  1. Place and align feet

    FeetYour feet will stay grounded in the same spot as they were in Talasana (Palm 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.

  2. Place and align legs

    LegsMake sure your legs are comfortably straight. Perhaps keep a slight bend in the knee, or make a deep bend and rest your torso on your thighs, Always make sure you avoid hyper-extending or locking your knees in this pose!

  3. Set hips

    Hips – On the EXHALE, you bend from your hips, not from your waist. Try to lift your hips/seat towards the ceiling.

  4. Notice torso

    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.

  5. Set head and neck

    Head and Neck – Keep your neck neutral, and allow your head to hang gently.

  6. Place your arms in the pose

    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 to deepen the stretch. If you have tight hamstrings and are working into the full expression of this pose, make sure to bend your knees as needed. Then wrap your hands behind knees or shins, wherever is comfortable, and help yourself lightly pull your chest towards your legs.

Sun Salutations Flow Forward Bend Variations

Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Half Forward Bend)

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.

Ardha Uttanasana - half standing forward bend pose - yoga pose forest yogi girl wearing black pants and bright hooded yellow sweatshirt, outdoors yoga in the woods
Ardha Uttanasana – Half Standing Forward Bend

Bikram Style Uttanasana

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. I am performing this style with a gentle lift in the Sun Salutations series demo photos!

Rag Doll Variation

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 the Uttanasana variation Rag Doll Pose. Hang for a couple breaths here, and breathe try to breathe into any tight spots in your hips.

Uttanasana - standing forward bend variation rag doll - yoga pose forest yogi girl wearing black, outdoors yoga in the woods
Uttanasana – Rag Doll

Uttanasana Variations Video

Check out our video for some variations of Uttanasana including an extra chest-opener!

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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!

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Share your Practice

Please comment to share your experience or if you have any questions! What did you think of this exercise? Which version of Uttanasana did you prefer? Always remember, be kind!

5 thoughts on “Yoga Challenge – Sun Salutations Poses: Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

  1. This is one of my favorite poses. I’ll do this during the day if I need a break from my desk, it helps take tension off my lower back. I like to go as far as I can, straight legs with palms flat on the ground… I have some natural hyper mobility though so this version feels the best to me to get a stretch.

  2. I almost always add in Rag Doll pose to my practice, it’s one of my favorites. I like to slowly sway back and forth into the stretch.

  3. I have super tight hamstrings and this pose gave them an awesome stretch! I preferred the traditional version (both with and without the rag doll pose) because I had to bend my knees at almost 90 degree angles in order to rest my chest completely on my thighs 😆

  4. I didn’t know that this was called Rag Doll Pose with the arms crossed, and I love that. Definitely my preferred pose. I mostly do yoga for my back so anything that stretches the back is my jam.

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