Forward Fold, or Uttanasana, is a great pose to use as a regular in your yoga practice. Usually integrated after Mountain Pose for flow purposes, Forward Fold is a great transition between Mountain and Plank. Forward Fold has multiple benefits of the mental and physical persuasion, making it a must for any yoga practice!
Uttanasana is highly beneficial physically. Not only does it stretch your hips, hamstrings, and calves, but it also strengthens knees and thighs. If we go a little deeper, Forward Fold stimulates the liver, kidneys, and stimulates the digestive system. If you’ve been under stress, this wonderful pose can help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Forward Fold can also help relieve headaches, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, asthma, sinusitis, and can be therapeutic for infertility.
Because it involves your head being positioned below your heart, Uttanasana calms the brain. The effects of this include reduced stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and insomnia, making it a great pose for a practice with the intention of increasing mindfulness and relaxation.
When practicing Forward Fold, it is important to remember that less is more. Make sure you have a prop to use to bring the ground closer to you if you aren’t flexible enough to reach the floor and don’t feel comfortable hanging loose. If you would like to use a block, you can find one here. Otherwise, a thick book also works well. Remember that less is more. If you relax and don’t push yourself too far, the stretch will be deeper and you’ll avoid possible injuries.
To properly practice Uttanasana:
- Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- While exhaling, bend at the hips.
- If you are new to the practice, place your hands on your hips to give you a mental reminder.
- Relax and allow your head to hang down while your sit bones point toward the ceiling.
- Rotate the top of your thighs slightly inward.
- Be sure not to lock your knees.
- Place your palms on the floor on either side of your feet if possible.
- This is where your block or book will come in handy while you are building your flexibility.
If you find you do not have the flexibility to straighten your legs, don’t get discouraged. Bend your knees as generously as you need. Eventually you may reach the point where you can straighten your legs, but remember that not everyone does. Yoga is not about the shape you create, but about what makes you feel good.
If you would like a more in-depth video detailing the steps of Uttanasana, Adriene’s video is available here. Stay beautiful, my friends. Namaste.