Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Difficulty level: Easy

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • May improve digestion
  • May provide relief for headaches
  • May provide improved results for asthma, high blood pressure, and sinusitis

From a standing position, with your legs hip distance apart, inhale and lift your arms above your head, allowing your gaze to follow your fingertips upward.  Keeping the length in your torso, and with strong legs, exhale and hinge forward from your hips.  Be certain to hinge from the hips, rather than bending or rolling through the waist.  Keep your back flat as you reach for the floor with your fingertips or palms.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.  With each inhalation, lift your back slightly.  With each exhale, release the crown of your head closer to floor, relaxing through the neck and jaw.  Press your ears toward the floor and lift your shoulder blades onto your back, lengthening and softening the neck.

When you  are ready to exit the pose, bring your hands to your hips.  Draw the elbows towards each other behind your back, press firmly through both feet, engage your abdominal muscles, and inhale as you draw the torso back to standing.  Finish by bringing your palms back overhead with your gaze towards your fingertips.  Exhale and draw your arms down to your sides, returning to a standing position.

Variations:

If your hands don’t comfortably reach the floor, place a block under your fingertips or place your hands on your shins for support (don’t allow your arms to dangle).  You may also widen your stance a bit to release the hamstrings slightly.

If your hamstrings are too tight and you feel as though you cannot release into the fold, keep a slight bend in your knees.  Maintain a uniform distance between your knees and ankles as you move through the pose.

Looking for a yoga sequence you can incorporate into your daily routine?  Check out Refresh, Renew, Reset~A 7-Day Jumpstart For Mind and Body.  Stacey Portugal and I created this nutrition protocol with daily yoga and meditation so you can step powerfully and easily into your New Year!