Uttanasana Yoga for a Strong Back and Stupendous Flexibility

Uttanasana Yoga is a variant of Ashtanga Yoga that is very popular in the West. Ashtanga is a series of poses and exercises derived from Hatha Yoga and designed to be repeated while focusing on breath and postures. Uttanasana or Standing Forward bend, with variations like Padahastasana in which the feet are held in the air, is now a popular standing forward bend asana as an alternative exercise. The word” Uttanasana” means” Uttanasana Breathing”. This type of exercise is ideal for the beginner as it allows the student to learn the basic principles of breathing exercise.

Uttanasana is often considered the most appropriate pose for beginners. However, this poses can also be performed with the legs straight or in a supine position. It is an excellent way to increase flexibility and mobility and improve circulation. It works the largest muscle group in the body – the diaphragm and is therefore an excellent exercise for improving strength and mobility.

Uttanasana is a Sanskrit word meaning “Uttanasana Breathing”. It is a standing forward bend and is designed to stretch and strengthen the diaphragm, abdominal muscles, parasympathetic muscles, respiratory muscles and major organs. The uttanasana is performed by keeping the feet flat on the floor, relaxed and slightly bent. The upper part of the body moves into a semi-circular arc, bringing the upper part of the lungs and diaphragm into a deeper stretch.

Uttanasana can be practiced with the legs straight and/or in a supine position. For example, Uttanasana I (uphill pose) can be practiced standing with the feet hip apart and the knees slightly bent while inhaling. Inhale through the nose and gradually exhale to a full open breathe. Hold this position for three breaths. Then repeat the cycle with the opposite legs.

Uttanasana can be practiced by taking the following simple steps. First, set the yoga sequences for each of the main poses and become comfortable with them. Next, slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while your lower back is in a straight position. (The sitting forward fold inhale should come from the abdomen, not the chest.) Maintain this position for three breaths. Then, without taking your eyes off the floor, straighten up as you move your arms over your head and repeat the sequence for the other side.

The Uttanasana I and II sequences are specially designed for achieving the deep breathing associated with the Standing Forward Bend pose. To achieve this position, place both of your hands on the sides of your head, place your palms on the ground and open your eyes. Now inhale deeply while rolling to the outer front of your feet, which will activate your abdominal muscles. Then return to the starting position and exhale completely through your nose. Repeat for the other side.

Uttanasana can also be performed with the assistance of props. For example, to do the Standing Forward Bend in Uttanasana, raise your legs and bend your knees so that your thigh and shoulder blades are about two feet apart from each other. Once in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the flat part of the ribcage under your chin. Bring the other inner side of the ribcage under your chin. In Uttanasana, bring your lower back into an Uttanasana alignment.

With your inner thigh and shoulder blades touching, inhale deeply and bend forward with your elbows. As you come up, feel the stretch in your waist, hips and legs. Exhale when you reach the top of the bend and then straighten your knees. Repeat the exercise for the other side.

Types Of Yoga Poses


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