Basic Pose, Advanced Approach: Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - Yoga Journal

Back to Basics: Advance Your Standing Forward Bend

See if you can’t makeover your entire flow by focusing on a few foundational poses. This week, try an advanced approach to Uttanasana.

Even if you could sail through Surya Namaskar in your sleep, we invite you to join us in revisiting the keystones of asana. Unlearn what you know, break your bad habits, and see if you can’t makeover your entire flow by re-focusing on a few foundational poses. Try an advanced approach to basic asana with SmartFLOW teacher trainer Tiffany Russo. Get #backtobasics with us all month on Facebook and Instagram.

You move through Uttanasana countless time in a single vinyasa class—twice in each Surya A alone. But how much thought do you put into it? If Uttanasana is is nothing more than a throwaway pose on your way to Chaturanga, you’re missing out on a lot of important work. For one thing, we call this a “forward” fold, not a “downward” fold. That means the proper folding action is to bend forward, extending the spine to the front of your mat, maintaining equal length in both the front and back of the torso, as opposed to collapsing everything downward toward the floor.

It’s also worth noting that the Sanskrit root word of Uttanasana is ut, which means intense. If you have tight hamstrings, you know why. If on the other hand you’re one of those people who was seemingly born with their legs behind their head, the challenge for you is staying mindful if the pose isn’t intense enough to keep you present with your breath. When practiced mindfully, Uttanasana is more than a forward fold and a hamstring stretch; it’s a great prep pose for inversions like Headstand, Forearm Stand, and Handstand. Learn how to make every single one count.

6 Ways to Practice Uttanasana More Mindfully