Anatomy of a Pose: Uttanasana

Uttanasana is a standing forward fold, which is considered very good for relieving stress and soothing the nervous system. The focus is at the shoulders and thighs. It is one of the most appropriate yoga daily pose for beginners and those who have no time for exercise.

Here’s the cue:

  • In Tadasana, standing straight with legs and feet together, erect spine, chest slightly lifted and hands to the side of the body. Exhale and bend from your hips, continue to bend till your hands touch your feet. (take a few breaths)
  • Shift your weight forward, slowly stretch your hips and bend further. (without straining the body)
  • Place the palm by the side of your feet and keep the knees and legs straight. If you can’t, you may micro-bend the knees OR grab the ankles or claves if you can’t place the palm on the floor.
  • Bring your forehead to your knees, close your eyes, and relax the body.
  • Take deep and slow breaths here.
  • As you retain the pose, gently try to stretch the spine further.
  • To move out of the posture, inhale and lift the palm off the ground. Slowly straighten your body keeping the neck down. Lastly, straighten the head.

Activating the muscles:

Pelvis and Legs

  • The psoas, pectineus and rectus femoris flex the hips and tilt the pelvis slightly forward.
  • The front part of the gluteus medius and the tensor fascia lata combine to turn the hips slightly inward so the kneecaps face directly inward.
  • The quadriceps, the large muscles down the front thighs contract to straighten the knees. The action creates reciprocal inhibition, relaxing the muscles on the back thigh (hamstring).
  • The thighs are drawn together by the adductor muscles on the inside of each thigh.

Trunk, Shoulders and Arms

  • The large band-like muscle on the front of the abdomen, the rectus abdominis, contracts to bend the trunk forward.
  • The lower part of the trapezius, which span the back, draws the shoulder away from the neck.
  • The front part of the deltoids moves the shoulders forward. The biceps bend the elbow, when the hands are fixed on the ground, these actions push the trunk deeper into the pose.

 

Common Mistakes: Make sure you fold from the hips not the waist or the back. A fold from the back will result in a curved spine that hands over the legs.

Benefits:

  • Relieve stomach pain and aids digestion.
  • Increase the strength and flexibility of the spine.
  • Stretches the hips, muscles of legs and hamstring.
  • Stimulates the functioning of kidney, liver and spleen.
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