Feet; intentionally placed, stable stance, weight spread throughout, press down, arches lifted.
Knees; extended, lifted, thighs strong.
Hips; depending on foot position and individual, internally rotated or neutral alignment.
Spine; flexed. gently use abdominals/ hip flexors to deepen. release neck and head.
Arms; dangle, relaxed.
Uttanasana translates ('Ut' - intense and 'tan' - stretch). Uttanasana is an intense stretch of the entire back body from heel to brow, you're stood folded. Due to the pose being inverted, the student will get the added benefit of releasing tension in the head, neck and depending on variation, relax the shoulders and arms.
Forward folds are generally calming however this one can be very intense for those that have a lot of tension in the back body, see modifications. Uttanasana, being part of the Sun Salutation sequence can be used as part of a dynamic warm up or to simply move through it as a transition between postures. The softening of the knees can be a good option if the pose is placed early on in the class and the student isn't quite warmed up. As tension is released the student can then go further.
You may wish to use Uttanasana as a prep pose for deeper back body stretches such as Standing Split or Monkey Pose. This pose being symmetrical can be great to assess any imbalance or one sidedness or to come back to, after an asymmetrical pose and notice the affects of that asymmetrical pose.
Foot to Hip : Inward/outward rotation. Raise on to toes. Widen/narrow stance. Hip hikes/twists.
Knee : Pedal legs.
Spine : Sway.
Shoulder to Hand : Hug elbows.
- The student can bend the knees to soften the stretch or to release the lower back allowing more of a fold. However after time, this too can get quite intense, as bent knees requires more muscular effort to hold. If the student can eventually stack and straighten the legs they can find more ease.
- Perform seated (Seated Forward Fold) Reduces pressure to the head. Is easier on the legs having the floor for support.
- Support spine with blocks under hands or on thighs like a table top.
One leg raised, (Standing Split) hip neutral, knee extended. Further stretch the supporting leg whilst working the raised leg against gravity.
One leg raised with outward rotation, knee extended (straight) or flexed (bent). Adds an additional stretch to the supporting inner thigh and raised leg hip flexors, whilst working the raised leg including glutes to rotate hip and hamstrings to flex the knee.
Arm variations : big toe holds / hug behind knees use arms to deepen the fold.
Block under toes further flexes the feet and so increases the pull on the back line.