Ardha Uttanasana, also known as the standing half forward bend pose, focuses mainly on the muscles in the back and the abdomen. It is commonly referred to as “Half Standing Forward Fold” or “Half Forward Bend. This pose is an essential element of Sun Salutations and helps to prepare the body for deeper yoga poses.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Those with back injuries should practice this pose with their hands resting on the back of a chair or against a wall. Keep the knees slightly bent. If you have a neck injury, keep your head down — do not lift it to gaze forward.
How To Do The Ardha Uttanasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- From the Uttanasana pose (standing forward bend), press the fingertips or palms firmly into the floor besides the feet.
- While inhaling, straighten the elbows, and arch the torso away from the thighs. Try to maintain as much length as possible between the navel and the pubic bone.
- Now with the fingertips or palms against the floor, lift the sternum forward and away from the floor. You can bend your knees slightly to get this movement right. This will help arch the back.
- Look forward but do not compress the back of the neck. Hold this arched posture for a few breaths and then release slowly while exhaling.
- Release the pose into the Uttanasana position.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Emphasize lengthening the front of your torso, instead of bringing your hands all the way to the floor. Bend your knees as much as you need to, or place your hands on your shins, yoga blocks, a chair, or against the wall to keep this length.
- Extend the crown of your head forward as you reach your tailbone behind you. Work to create as much space between your belly button and tailbone as you can.
- Be sure to fold from the hips, not the waist. To learn this movement, place your hands directly on your front hip bones. Press your hands into your front hip bones and hinge from that spot, keeping your torso long.
- Aim for aligning your ankles, knees, and hips. It’s common to lean back, placing too much weight on the heels. Practice the pose with your back against a wall to learn the correct weight distribution.
If you find it difficult to touch the floor without bending the knees, use a yoga block for support on either side of your feet. To maintain the spine straight, use a wall for support or place your hands on the thighs or shins instead of the ground.
Modifications & Variations
Try these changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If your hamstrings or low back are tight, bend your knees.
- If you can’t easily touch the mat with your knees straight, place your hands on your shins. You can also press each hand on yoga blocks set to the outside of each foot.
- To learn the movement of keeping your back flat, place your hands on the back of a chair. You can also press your palms against a wall, just above waist level. Walk your feet back, bending at the hips, until your torso is parallel to the ground. Your body should form the shape of an upside down “L”.
- If you’re practicing with a wall and can’t keep your back flat, walk your hands higher up the wall until your spine is straight.
- If you’re having trouble balancing, stand with your feet hip-distance apart or wider.
- If you have sciatica, stand with your feet hip-distance apart or wider, with your toes turned inward and heels turned outward.
- Women who are pregnant should stand with their feet as wide as necessary to feel stable. Only fold forward as deeply as it is comfortable for your stage in pregnancy and be careful not to compress the belly.
Benefits Of The Ardha Uttanasana
- The standing half-forward bend pose stretches and strengthens the spine and helps improve body posture.
- It strengthens the back muscles and stretches the torso.
- It stimulates and strengthens the muscles in the abdominal region.
- It improves overall body balance.
- It stretches the hamstrings as well as the quadriceps.
- It also helps stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck, shoulders, knees, ankles, and toes.
- It also helps relieve abdominal pain experienced during menstrual periods.
- It eases the symptoms of conditions like asthma, headaches, insomnia, and menopause.
- It improves digestion and helps in lowering high blood pressure.
- It also has therapeutic benefits for problems like sinusitis, osteoporosis, as well as infertility.
You can incorporate Ardha Uttanasana into your day, as a gentle way to stretch after sitting for long periods. Move between Uttanasana and Ardha Uttanasana a few times, linking your breath with your movement: Inhaling to lift, exhaling to lower. Stretching your spine and legs this way can rejuvenate your whole body, and moving with your breath will calm your mind!