Standing Forward Bend: Uttanasana Yoga Tutorial

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OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend

Step by Step

Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Feet can be together or hip distance apart. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.

If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn't possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.

With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.

Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.

Don't roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.

About Michelle Goldstein: Michelle has been maintaining a daily yoga practice for 15 years. A protégée of renowned Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest of Santa Monica Power Yoga, Michelle has been teaching yoga for 8 years. A devoted student, she has also studied under a wide range of respected teachers including Max Strom, Bryan Kest, Saul David Raye, Erich Schiffman, Annie Carpenter, Guru Singh, Vinnie Marino, Shiva Rea, Janet Stone, Jerome Mercier and others.


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