Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
ut = intense; tan = stretch
About the pose:
As the Sanskrit name says, Uttanasana is an ‘intense’ stretch and as such, caution should be used by accentuating that the majority of the forward bend comes from the hips rather from the back. The misconception that it is ‘good’ or ‘admirable’ to touch the knees with the head (by pulling on your toes) can lead to injuries of the back. Particularly if the pull is simply used to force the back and head into submission, compensating for the lack of bend in the hips. Therefore, starting with bend knees is a good idea (and it also helps to overcome the ego-based thinking of more is better) as this emphasises the hip bend. Slowly, the knees can be straightened and gravity will help to lengthen (rather than round) the back over time. For a detailed 3D image of the pose, go to http://www.bandhayoga.com/flyarounds.html and scroll down to ‘Uttanasana’.
Key muscle groups:
Stretches the back, hips, hamstrings and calves. Strengthens the thigh muscles.
– stimulates liver and kidney function
– aids in the treatment of mild depression and headaches
– improves digestion and lung function
Enjoy your practice!