Uttanasana — Forward Facing Pose

“When you are ready to do Uttanasana, have you ever studied the movement of energy? You only know that you are bending forward and your hands are going down. But how do the energy and consciousness spread in the body?… Do you ever observe whether your consciousness expands from the back towards the sides, or do you only observe the vertical downward movement? When every asana is multi-petaled, why do you ever make it single-petaled?”
B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga Wisdom & Practice

Where To

• Under hands

• Under feet

• Between the thighs

• Between the feet

Why To

• Using the Eggs under the hands allows you to find grounding and focus more on the actions of the pelvis.  This encourages the lengthening of the spine from the tailbone to the base of the skull.

• Holding your Eggs in your hands in the high position allow less flexible people to maintain a flat back and more easily fold from the hip crease.

• With an Egg between the upper thighs it is easier to maintain the internal rotation of the thighs without collapsing in the knees.  This affords more space around the sacrum for rotation of the pelvis.

• Keeping an Egg between the thighs also helps to maintain the hip-distance alignment.

• An Egg between the feet helps maintain hip-distance alignment of the legs and engage the inner arches of the feet.

• An Egg under the feet gives the benefit of added extension for those who are very flexible and want the release of gravity to deepen the pose.

How To

• Begin by placing an Egg between your thighs and standing with your feet hip-distance apart.

• Place an optional Egg, flat side down, between your feet.

• Pick up an Egg in each hand.

• Draw your inner ankles up toward your knees and encourage your outer ankles in.

• Press down through all four corners of each foot.

• Engage your quadriceps, drawing your kneecaps up toward your groin.

• Draw your inner thighs back toward the wall behind you and soften your tailbone towards the back of your knees.

• With an Egg in each hand, inhale lengthening all four sides of the torso.

• Exhale as you fold forward, hinging at the hips, and maintain the length in your spine.

• Place your hands directly below your shoulders with either the rounded or pointed side of the Egg on the ground depending on your degree of flexibility.

• Come down only as far as you can while maintaining a flat back (see picture A).

• Inhale as you draw the tops of your thighs towards the wall behind you.

• Exhale, moving deeper into the fold.

• If you feel any pain in your knees, micro-bend your legs and back out of the pose about 20%.

• Keep the back of the neck long as you draw the chin slightly in towards the spine.

• Soften your shoulders away from the ears as you broaden across the collarbones.

• If Uttanasana is easily accessible to you, and you’d like more challenge, try standing with an Egg under each foot, flat side down (see picture C).

• Allow your spine to soften, and release your arms as the crown of your head is drawn toward the floor.

When Not To

• Forward folds can be hard on people with (lower) back pain.  One school of thought says it is important to maintain straight legs so that your hamstrings lengthen over time and stop pulling on your spine.  Therefore it is less important how deep you go into Uttanasana than it is to maintain straight legs (without hyper-extending).  Find the form first, and allow for the depth to come slowly.  If you are careful, it will come.  The Eggs do a great job of providing you with enough height to stay within the limits of your own body.  If they are not tall enough for you, try using the back of a chair and slowly work your way down into a deeper forward fold.

• If you are someone who hyper-extends your knees, be mindful to maintain micro-bend your knees when you go down. 

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