Uttanasana ( Standing Forward Bend )

Pronunciation and meaning

 

Uttanasana

OOT-tan-AHS-anna

Ut= intense

tan=stretch

This is the pose that we use very often in sun salutation  . It also prepares you for some seated forward fold poses for example paschimotanasana or janu shirshasana .

The following steps to get in the pose :

  1. Begin in Tadasana with palms together at front of the chest .
  2. Inhale , raise the arms up to the ceiling and lengthen the spine .
  3. Exhale , hinge at the hips to fold forward with arms lengthening forward and away from tailbone . Keep the back straight and tuck in your abdominal toward the spine . Bring the palms to the mat by the side of the feet . Contract the thigh muscles and roll up the kneecaps .
  4. Hold for 5 breaths . Can bend the knee slightly if the hamstring is tight . With each exhalation , draw the sit bones up to the ceiling , and elongate the spine to the floor to have a deeper stretch . Abdomen on the thigh . Gravity will gently move your head toward the mat . Gaze softly at knee or shin .
  5. Inhale and pelvic tuck to engage the core and lift the torso upward with arms lengthening upward  away from the mat to ceiling . Elongate the spine upright to standing . Return to Tadasana .

Joints Actions

Hip flexion , knee extension , mild spinal flexion ( the tighter the hamstrings , the more the spinal flexion).

Working

Upper body : gravity

Lower body : Vastus medialis , intermedius, lateralis (knee , extensors); articularis genus ( to draw up on the capsule of the knee joint) ; the feet and ankles ( for balance )

Lengthening

Spinal muscles , hamstrings , posterior fibers of gluteus medius and minimus , gluteus maximus , priformis, adductor magnus , soleus , gastrocnemius.

Breathing

Deep hip flexion compresses the abdomen . This combined with gravity moves the center of the diaphragm cranially , so more freedom is needed in the back of the rib cage for the movement .

Obstacles

Tightness in hamstrings , spinal muscles , gluteals.

Cautions

People with back injury , osteoporosis , or both should approach deep forward bending cautiously and gradually.

People with high blood pressure (hypertension ) should go into this pose gradually and remain in it only if the breathing is not strained . People with low blood pressure (hypotension) should come out of this pose very slowly , because they may become dizzy.

Benefits

Calms and helps to relieve stress and mild depression . Stimulates the liver and kidneys . Stretches the hamstrings , calves and hips . Strengthening the quadriceps and knees . Improves digestion . Reduces fatique and anxiety .

Notes

In this pose , gravity should do the work but with people that experience tightness in the back of the legs sometimes pull themselves down , which creates tightness and congestion in the rectus femoris and psoas . It’s better to soften the knees to find some space in the hip joint , allowing the spine to release .Only then does lengthening the legs produce an even the stretch along the entire back line of the body .

Chakra : Muladhara ( Root )