Uttanasana / Deep Forward Fold

Folding forward from the hips gives the hamstrings and lumbar spine an intense, intentional stretch.  Hanging upside down even for a few moments brings fresh blood to the brain and gives a refreshed sense of well-being.

Contraindications (cautions): Back injury: Do this pose with bent knees, or perform Ardha Uttanasana, Half Forward Fold, with your hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to your torso, and arms parallel to the floor..

Step by Step

1.  Stand in Tadasana, Mountain Pose.  Inhale as you open your arms wide, bringing the palms together above your head.

2.  Hinge at the hips to fold forward with arms lengthening forward and away from the tailbone.  If your back is strong, keep the legs straight as you fold forward.  Bring the hands to the floor beside your feet.  If you can’t reach, have the knees slightly bent, allowing them to gently lengthen with each breath.

3.  If you touch the floor easily, walk your hands back and press more of your palms to the floor.  Allow the back of your neck to be long, chin tucked in slightly toward the throat.  Remain here for at least five deep breaths, visualising the spine as a waterfall, cascading forward over the rim of the pelvis as gravity lets the crown of your head gently toward the earth.

4.  Firm the lower abdomen and move the hips forward to inhale upward.  Maintain the length in the spine as you lift the torso upright to standing.

5.  Counterpose: A backbend such a Salabhasana (Locust Pose) or Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose).