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Asana Analysis

Published on December 27th, 2014 | by Catherine Tingey

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STANDING FORWARD BEND (Uttanasana)

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Nearly all of my private clients at the moment are beginners and in reviewing the poses on my blog, I realized that there are a handful of basic postures missing…so expect a primer on the basics coming up next month!

Standing Forward Bend is a nice break to take in the middle of the day after sitting, early in the morning, or when you need a tiny respite in the evening. Forward folding postures automatically quiet the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-flight response) and activate our parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for involuntary actions of the body, primarily resting and digestion).

ALIGNMENT

In MOUNTAIN POSE (Tadasana), bend from the hips, keep the front of the torso long (i.e. do not round the back) and fold forward.

Allow the head and neck to be heavy.

If the hands don’t reach the ground, grab opposite elbows. Try swaying from side-to-side. Alternatively, the hands can be placed on a chair or counter.

BENEFITS

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Opens the backs of the legs (hamstrings), calves and ankles
  • Stretches the spine
  • Helpful for insomnia
  • Improves digestion

WORK IN THE POSE

If it feels good and the legs are straight, you can begin to spread the sit bones left to right, and up to the sky

MODIFICATION

If the low back feels tight or cranky, keep the knees generously bent.

There is some debate over whether SEATED FORWARD BEND is safer for the lumbar spine and hamstrings than Standing Forward Bend. I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve seen casualties of Paschimottanasana in the physical therapy office, their hamstring attachments severed by an over-zealous yoga teacher’s adjustment. While unprofessional teachers can give unsolicited adjustments in any posture, seated postures tend to invite this behavior.

Best to use the humble Standing Forward Bend, and WIDE LEGGED FORWARD BEND with modifications and props to be safe.

 

 

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Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.

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About the Author

Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.



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