Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend pose) is a classic yoga asana of the Surya Namaskar series, designed by the yoga luminaries to warm and loosen up the body for advanced yoga practices. Practiced as a transition pose, a relaxing posture, and a holistic asana in itself, standing forward fold offers a plethora of benefits when performed correctly by engaging the targeted muscles.
The Uttanasana has multiple variations, all with their unique health benefits. Here is a subtle compilation of four uttanasana variations that a yoga practitioner can try:
1. The Elbow Grab: Stand straight on a yoga mat with feet hip-width apart. Fold the upper forward from the hips and relax the head and neck completely. Bend the arms, grab the left elbow with the right hand and right elbow with the left palm. Draw the shoulder blades towards the ears using the strength of the arms.
2. The Clasped Hands: Begin in Mountain Pose. Keep your feet together and hinge down. Either bend your knees or keep the legs straight. Extend the arms forward and clasp the hands. Make sure your head and neck rest in a relaxing position.
3. The Reach: Stand upright on the ground. Keep your legs strong. Take a deep fold forward such that your stomach is in close contact with the thighs. Reach your arms forward and place the hands on the floor. Either rest the hands on the back of the heels with your forearms against the calves or try to grab the toes of the feet with opposite hands.
4. Secret Prayer: Perform Uttanasana. Next, take your arms behind in a ‘T’ position and join the palms together along the spine with fingers pointing towards the head. If you are unable to perform this, clasp the opposite elbows behind the back.
Have a look at the benefits of standing forward bend pose that can be derived from a dedicated practice of Uttanasana and its modifications.
1. Releases Lower Back Tightness: Folding forward while keeping the knees bend helps in releasing lower back tightness and lengthens the muscles that run along the spine. This is beneficial for individuals who sit for prolonged durations and are susceptible to the harmful effects of a sedentary living.
2. Relaxes the tired Muscles: The variation of uttanasana in which the practitioner grabs the opposite elbows with hands is great for tired upper back muscles. The weight of the arms gravitating downwards along with a relaxed head and neck stretches the back & shoulders.
3. Relieves Stress: All yoga poses are beneficial in reducing stress and Uttanasana is no exception. The standing forward fold bend is a great stress and fatigue reliever. It encourages the body to rest in the forward fold while the gravity helps in opening the chest and reversing the tightness in the shoulders. Overall, the pose fosters calmness and positivity.
4. Therapeutic in Nature: The performance of Uttanasana and its variations is therapeutic for numerous diseases like asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, infertility, and sinusitis. The pose opens up the chest thereby improving the lung capacity, elongates the spine decreasing the chances of osteoporosis, especially in elders, and promotes a healthy neurological system, thus preventing high blood pressure, infertility, etc.
5. Strengthens the Liver and Kidneys: The liver and kidneys perform vital functions, such as filtration, storage of nutrients, waste elimination, etc. An optimal working of these organs helps individuals benefit the maximum from the food consumed. Uttanasana is a natural approach to maintaining the health of liver and kidneys.
6. Cures Insomnia: If you struggle to sleep no matter how exhausted you feel, instances are you are suffering from insomnia. Insomnia takes a toll on health, vitality, and mood. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health issues. Standing forward fold is a natural antidote to stress, depression, fatigue, etc., that helps a person get a restful sleep at night.
7. Enhances Digestion: As you fold forward in the pose, the digestive system gets a gentle massage and its functioning gets activated. The practice of revolving in uttanasana acts like a twist benefiting the digestive tract and abdominal organs.
Play with the posture, try diverse alterations of stretching, bending and admire your robust, flexible, and renewed physique.
To know about this wonderful asana in further detail, explore our Yoga Teacher Training In India.