21-Day Back to the Mat Challenge: Day Six. Standing Forward Fold
Good morning. Welcome to Day Six. Today we’ll explore Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold.
Uttanasana puts together ut, meaning “intense,” or “deliberate,” together with tan, “stretch,” or “extend.” Uttanasana stretches the whole back body and the entire sheath of muscles, fascia, and connective tissue all the way from the soles of the feet to your third eye (the point on your forehead between your eyebrows).
Forward bends are very meditative and introspective by nature. They are calming, good for digestion, and can relieve stress and anxiety. Metaphorically the front of the body is often associated with the self and the ego. In forward bends, we get a chance to turn inward for a little self-care and nurturing.
Begin your practice today enjoying the postures and pranayama we’ve shared so far this year. After Day Five’s Tadasana (Mountain Pose) move into Uttanasana in this way:
- From Tadasana, lower your hands to your sides
- On an inhale, reach your arms to the sides and up,
- Expand and find length in your torso as you keep your muscles engaged
- Bend your knees slightly, lifting your kneecaps
- Exhale, keep your spine long and straight as you fold forward
Note: If your hands do not reach the mat, rest them on your knees, or cross your forearms, clasp your elbows, and rest your elbows on your knees. In either case, let your spine remain long. If you have low back pain or a hamstring injury, keep your knees bent as deeply as necessary to alleviate any possible aggravation.
- Keep the tops of your thigh bones back
- Lift your belly up and in
- Tuck your chin and let the back of your neck relax
- Breathe deeply and easily
Lower yourself down to a comfortable seat, then lie back into Savasana.
Here is the short version of today’s practice:
- Take a comfortable seat
- Close your eyes, Bring your attention inward
- Inhale, lengthen the spine, Exhale, keep that length
- Notice deeply
- Continue in this way for 10 or 20 breaths
- Open your eyes and move to a kneeling position (sit back on your heels)
- Perform Kapalabhati for 20-50 breaths, Repeat (as you like)
- Come to Child’s pose, enjoy the effects of Kapalabhati
- Come up to Table, then move with breath: Table > Down Dog > Table > Child’s Pose…
Repeat Five times (or as many or few times as you like)
- Balancing Table (both sides)
- Lower arm/leg back to Table
- Exhale as you Push back to Downward Facing Dog
- Inhale, Step forward to Standing Forward Fold
- Exhale here
- Inhale up to Tadasana, Mountain Pose
- Sun Salutation (both sides)
- Close your eyes, bring your hands together in Prayer Pose, Anjali Mudra, at the center of your chest
- Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold
- Lower down to a comfortable sitting position
- Lie back into Savasana