Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Ardha Uttanasana (Standing Half Forward Bend) is a pose you’re probably familiar with as part of the Sun Salutation sequence. It’s the one after Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). You may also have heard a teacher call it Half Lift or Halfway Lift.
In Standing Half Forward Bend, the aim is to keep your back flat to create length throughout your upper body—something that is important to learn for many other yoga postures. If you can’t do this while keeping your knees completely straight, microbend your knees, or place your hands on top of blocks or on your shins.
As you come into this pose, bend from your hips rather than your waist. As you fold forward, keep your ankles, knees, and hips aligned.
Ardha Uttanasana (ARE-dah oot-tan-AHS-ah-nah)
ardha = half
uttana = intense stretch
Standing Half Forward Bend: Step-by-Step Instructions
- From Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), press your palms or fingertips into the floor (or blocks on the floor) beside your feet. With an inhale, straighten your elbows and arch your torso away from your thighs, finding as much length between your pubic bone and navel as possible.
- With your palms (or fingertips) push down and back against the floor, and lift the top of your sternum up (away from the floor) and forward. You might bend your knees slightly to help get this movement, which will arch the back.
- Look forward, but be careful not to compress the back of your neck. Hold the arched-back position for a few breaths. Then, with an exhale, release your torso into full Uttanasana.
Standing Half Forward Bend with knees bent
People with shorter hamstrings or arms may not be able to touch the floor. That’s okay! Keep your back flat and place your hands on your shins or thighs. You may also bend your legs slightly.
Standing Half Forward Bend with blocks
Another option for people who are not able to touch the floor is to use blocks. Place two of them in front of your feet, approximately shoulder-width apart. Fold forward, keeping your back flat, and place your hands on the blocks. You may also bend your legs slightly.
Standing Half Forward Bend
Practice facing a chair. When you fold forward, place your hands on the seat of the chair. Keep your back flat and look down at your hands.
Contraindications and Cautions
With any neck injury, don’t lift the head to look forward; otherwise same as those of Uttanasana
If you can’t easily touch the floor with your knees straight, support each hand on a yoga block set just outside each foot.
Stretches the front torso
Strengthens the back and improves posture
Stimulates the belly