How To Do Upward Extended Pose (Urdhva Uttanasana)
Typified as a classical standing forward fold posture in yoga, Urdhva Uttanasana is known to relax and restore equilibrium in the body and the mind. The asana involves a thorough bend downwards from the hips, which won’t contrarily constrict the chest but rather lift up the head and the heart, tenderly pushing them outward.
The Upward Extended Pose is a common feature in beginner’s Hatha Yoga, where the performance of the pose is also encouraged with prop support. Modification cues in this posture for better heart opening go for performing the Urdhva Uttanasana against the support of a wall.
Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Perform This Asana:
1. Come on your mat to stand with the strength and rigor of the Mountain Pose. Exhale deeply in. Coordinated with the breath given out, hinge from your tips to the way front. Tucking your chest and abdomen to the inside, let your torso drop. Bend down slowly, in rhythm with the exhalation and with your arms outstretched. Touch the floor with the tips of your extended hands.
Raise your turned torso half-way up by using your fingers, touching against the floor as levers. All this time, maintain a flat back.
Note: The challenge here is to lead the bending from the navel instead of the shoulders. That way, your chest remains open and the breathing profound.
2. Push your spine closer to the sternum as you have dropped towards the floor. Fling open your chest during this whole process. Be on your guard, not to bend the knees. Only with your legs straight and stretched out, can your back receive the desired arching effect.
However, in some logical modifications of the Urdhva Uttanasana, it is permissible to bend the knees fully or just to a little degree to keep the lower back eased and risk-free. Push the tailbone away to the back and the nose turned forward to keep the length in the spine to the best possible extent.
Note: After reaching the full extent of the bent, take your gaze round to the ceiling and fix your visual focal right at a point of the ceiling in order to stabilize your back and legs in the posture.
3. As you have bent down and fixed your gaze in the front, start breathing. Take 2-4 long breaths, reaching the depths of your windpipe, pushed down to the chest, and further along. Use the breath as an anchor between your mind and body. Slowly turn your focus inwards for as long as you are holding the posture.
4. In order to release, breathe out and straighten out your back. Revert your torso back in a simple forward fold. Relax and then pull your torso back up in the standing position.
Benefits & Advantages:
Active Stretch of the Hips, Hamstrings, and Calves- The intense bend down can for real fire up one’s hip flexors. Often, there is unyielding solidity formed in the muscles of the hamstrings and glutes. This may be due to lack of sufficient warming movement.
While rigidity in the hamstrings can limit you from performing advanced postures like the Extended Hand to Toe and the Standing Forward Bend, a sequence can be started with Urdhva Uttanasana, in order to ease into the advanced levels.
Sets an Overall Good Posture- Through the effective stretching and straightening of spinal joints and connected muscle fibres, this asana enhances flexibility and sturdiness simultaneously. Resultantly, there is going to be an advanced sense of body balance and coordination.
The practice of this asana can also set right hunched-back and slouched posturing which is naturalized from a sedentary lifestyle.
Stimulates the Digestive Organs- The downward fold from the hips and step-wise gentle elongation of the spine that is involved in the Upward Extended Pose can create an effective thrust on the intestinal organs directly. This works for the stimulation of the kidneys, liver, and spleen.
Often, the gentle thrust on the abdominal inside helps relieve trapped gases and relieves congestion. Physical relief is thus one of the greater benefits of performing the Upward Extended Pose.
Relieves Depression and Fatigue of the Body-Mind- As a chest opener, Urdhva Uttanasana is challenging but effective. The down bend with the shoulders thrown back and the neck tilted to the front lets a great influx of oxygen into the bloodstream. This, in turn, sweeps the fatigued musculoskeletal areas as well as the lobes of the brain deprived of oxygenation with a surge of nutrient-rich blood. When the cerebral lobes refresh with a fresh bout of oxygen, depressive impulses reduce on their own. There is a spring of energy and cheer in every sphere of the mind-body.
Alleviates Insomnia to Some Extent- The channeling of blood to the head through the Upward Extended Pose can make a major contribution in the cure of Insomnia and other sleep disorders like the Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Modifications & Variations
Keeping Your Hands on Blocks- Reach your hands out in the downward fold, aiming to rest them on the top of the yoga blocks (placed in front of your feet), instead of reaching them over to touch the floor. This way, an intense stretch, as well as ease for the lower back, could be ensured.
Ardha Uttanasana or Standing Half-forward Bend- Stand in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and press down your palms into the floor beside your feet. Using the hands on the ground as levers, lift up with a strong inhale and on reaching your back in a straight line aligned parallel to the floor, pause. Bring your loosely hanging arms towards the thighs and bend the elbows to rest the two hands on the knees.
The contraindications of performing this pose are related to back, spinal, and neck injury. Refrain from the posture if your lower back doesn’t feel sturdy enough. Sciatica, arthritis, and advanced pregnancy too are unfavorable conditions for a risk-free practice of Urdhva Uttanasana.
Block support underneath the hands is highly recommended for the ease of a straining back.
To know about the traditional aspects of this wonderful asana in further detail, explore our Yoga Teacher Training In India.