Our Foundation Friday series delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice. Today we are highlighting Uttanasana, or standing forward fold.
Foundation Friday: Uttanasana
Uttanasana || Standing Forward Fold OOH-tah-NAH-sah-nah
Ud (उद्; ud) = prefix for verbs or nouns, indicating superiority in location, rank, power, intensity Tana (तान; tāna) = "stretched" Uttana (उत्तान; uttāna) = "intense stretch" or "straight" or "stretched" Asana (आसन; āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat"
Uttanasana is an active time-out; your legs release, your feet root and ground you, your head is below your heart, and your spine releases. Taking time here allows your other postures to integrate and connects you to the present moment. With a variety of ways to execute uttanasana, you can tailor your experience in this asana to suit your intention. You may choose to dangle and sway, releasing tension from your entire back body, or you may choose a variation including a grip on the toes or hands under the feet with a more active core, spine and legs. Regardless, uttanasana allows you to hang your heart close to your body, a shape that offers inner reflection and the opportunity to create self-love. As our postures are medicine, this one bows you into your Self, creating a reverent pause to fall deeper in love.
Benefits of Uttanasana
- stretches your hips, hamstrings and calves
- strengthens your knees and thighs
- keeps your spine strong and flexible
- calms your mind, soothes your nerves
- reduces stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression
- releases neck, spine and back tension
- activates your core
- stimulates your kidneys, liver and spleen
- addresses symptoms of menopause, asthma, headaches and insomnia
- improves digestion
- can lower high blood pressure