Half Forward Bend, Ardha Uttanasana Yoga Pose
The half forward bend or Ardha Uttanasana yoga pose is a standing posture or asana. The standing postures are probably the most diverse of all the groups, other groups being sitting postures, supine postures, inversions and twists.
Standing postures can be used for warm-up, preparation, compensation or as a main posture. As a warm up it is a good idea to use standing postures when the next part of the routine is also performed from a standing position.
The Sanskrit words ardha uttanasana means:
ardha = half
uttana = extended
asana = pose or posture
This pose can also be done with support (see below) allowing you to let go and stretch for a deeper experience.
Why Forward Bends are Important
Most of the day we spend upright on our feet or seated and hence the cervical spine and neck muscles have to work hard to balance the head. We usually don't pay attention to this part of our body and so accumulate a lot of tension in the neck. The standing forward bend stretches the entire back of the body and decompresses the neck, making space between the vertebrae. It is a good posture for relaxing the neck muscles.
The standing forward bend or uttanasana can be done as a warm-up before the half standing forward bend or ardha uttanasana.
Caution: However, be very careful of all forward bends if you are having a disc problem. If in doubt, consult a doctor or a health professional.
Standing Half Forward Bend - Ardha Uttanasana
How to do Half Forward Bend or Ardha Uttanasana
Benefits: This pose strengthens the legs, the back, shoulders and arms, and improves stamina. This pose lengthens and aligns the spine, reduces lower back pain and helps keep the back and neck flexible. It stretches the backs of the legs and hamstring muscles. The seven steps to do the half standing forward bend are:
1. Stand in Mountain pose or tadasana.
2. Inhale, raise your arms forwards and then up over your head.
3. Exhale, bend forward from your hips.
4. Soften your knees and hang your arms
5. Bend your knees, and as you inhale raise your torso and arms up from the front, parallel to the floor. (If you have a back problem, keep your arms back by your sides)
6. Bring your head to a neutral position, so that your ears are between your arms.
7. Look down and little forwards.
8. Inhale and Roll up slowly, stacking the bones of your spine one at a time and then raise your arms overhead.
9. Exhale and come back to mountain pose.Repeat Steps 1-6 three times and then stay in Step 6 for 6-8 breaths.
Advanced Version: In the full posture the feet are together and the legs and arms are straight.
Supported Half and Full Forward Bend
You may find that using the wall for support allows you to let go and relax into the stretch for a deeper experience.
- Stand about a foot away from a wall. Spine is elongated and your feet are hip-distance apart.
- Allow your buttocks to lean against the wall. Bend forward, hinging at the hips. Bend your knees slightly.
- Reach around and use your hands to lift the flesh of your buttocks up and away from your sitting bones.
- Inhale and Roll up slowly, stacking the bones of your spine one at a time and then raise your arms overhead.
- Exhale and come back to mountain pose.
Coming out of the Half Forward Bend: As you inhale roll up slowly. Rolling up is the safest way to come up.
The standing forward bends and half forward bends both freestanding and supported versions stretch the backs of the leg and hamstring muscles. It is very important to have flexible hamstring muscles to avoid injury and poor posture.
Resources for Further Practice
- Beginning Yoga Poses
Regular practice of yoga poses builds up the body's inner strength and natural resistance, improves muscle tone and removes toxins. Find out some of the beginners yoga poses.
- Yoga Poses for Legs
Our legs are the most important parts of the body. They support our body weight, help us walk, run, swim, stand and be active in our lives. Yoga is a great way to maintain muscle tone of the legs.
- Yoga Poses for the Spine: Strength and Flexibility
The spine is like the trunk of a tree, supporting the entire body structure. Taking care of it and maintaining its strength and flexibility is of primary importance. Find out some of the yoga poses that you can incorporate into your yoga practice.
- Camel Yoga Pose, Ustrasana
The Camel Pose or Ustrasana is an intermediate level kneeling backbend yoga pose. It stretches and strengthens the spine, thighs, abdomen and back muscles. It is an energizing and improves posture.
- Yoga Poses for Hips
The hips and buttocks bear the weight or the human body and determine its balance. It is important to strengthen and ensure good muscle tone for easy movement and flexibility in daily life. Learn about some of the yoga poses that can benefit the hip