Subscribe to our blog
Yoga Blog
How To Practice Standing Forward fold

How To Practice Standing Forward fold

Known as Uttanasana in Sanskrit, standing forward fold is the third posture in the Sun Salutation sequence. ‘Ut’ is a part of speech that denotes “determination or intensity,” ‘Tan’ means “to stretch or extend,” and asana means “pose.” Uttanasana combines to mean “intense stretch pose.” It resembles the intense stretch that opens the hamstrings, lengthens the lower back, and stretches the entire back body, from the legs to the crown of the head. Uttanasana is considered an important posture because, in addition to the physical stretching and strengthening benefits, it is believed to have pranic, or energetic benefits. From an Ayurveda perspective, according to the doshas, Uttanasana is thought to stimulate Vata (the air element), which speeds up digestion and increases the light, airy energy in the body.

Position type: Standing

Posture type: Forward Fold

Ideal for: Flexibility in the spine and back

Targets: Full Body

Pose level: Beginner


What are the benefits of standing forward fold? 

Uttanasana stretches the hamstrings, calves and glute muscles. It has a strengthening effect on the quadriceps, hip flexors and knee joints. Also lengthens and elongates the spine from the cervical to the lumbar, and improves overall flexibility. The posture massages and tones the digestive organs, alleviates flatulence, constipation and indigestion. Furthermore, it stimulates and tones the spinal nerves. Inverting the trunk also increases vitality, improves metabolism and concentration and helps with nasal and throat diseases. Also, the inverted upper body goes against gravity which helps the deoxygenated blood go through your veins back to the heart.

With practice, it improves the range of motion in the hips, pelvis, knees and spine. The lower body gets intense which removes muscular tension from the legs and is very relaxing. The lengthening of the spine helps in maintaining the natural space between the vertebrae. It increases spinal toning which has a calming effect on the spinal nerves. The spinal cord is the transmitter for messages to the brain which is the powerhouse of the nervous system. Therefore, good spinal health calms, balances and relaxes the mind.

How can you prepare for the asana 

Hip flexibility

Improve hip flexibility to get the right alignment in standing forward fold. Practicing standing triangle pose, lunges and simple hip openers like garland pose and pigeon pose regularly can help develop the required hip flexibility. 

Triangle Pose

Lower back flexibility

With hip flexibility, back flexibility is also important for the asana. Practicing backbends like camel pose, cobra pose, locust pose and forward bends like seated forward fold and standing forward fold are helpful. 

Core and leg strength

Core strength is always helpful to hold the posture for longer. Regular practice of triangle pose, warrior series, boat pose and plank are important. 

Boat Pose

How to Practice Standing Forward fold

Getting into the posture

  1. As you inhale, lift the arms upwards towards the sky/ceiling. As the biceps touch the ear, start bending back and keep the position of the head and arms intact. Stretch from the sides and the abdomen. 
  2. Now, exhale and pull the stomach in. Start bending forward from the hip and try to bring the chest closer to the thighs. 
  3. Place the hands next to your feet, or on the ground in front of you, keeping the elbows slightly bent. Inhale and look ahead. 
  4. Exhale and bring the face closer to the knees. Relax the head and neck, and hold the posture for a few breaths. 

Getting out of the posture

  1. As you exhale, release the palms. Inhale, bend the knees gently and lift up, taking hands up overhead. 
  2. Exhale and bring the hands down.

What are the contraindications of Uttanasana? 

Avoid the posture during pregnancy. Don't put too much pressure on the feet. Avoid it if you have carpal tunnel or wrist pain. If you suffer from back pain or sciatica issues, reduce the intensity of the stretch and keep knees generously bent. Those with high BP and other heart issues should avoid the asana. 

What are the counter poses of Uttanasana? 

Practice poses like the chair pose (Utkatasana), tree pose (Tadasana) or raised arms pose (Hasta Uttanasana).

Tree Pose

Standing forward fold Variations

Easy Variation

Hold the ankle and support the fold by bending elbows to come down further. This variation is called Goolpha Hastasana (gripping ankle). 

Advanced Variation

Practice the forward fold by placing the palms under the feet, this variation is called Padahastasana (hand under the feet).

Advice for beginners 

Initially, you can make the pose more accessible by bending the knees a little bit. Engage the legs, arms, spine, shoulder and hips to gain more flexibility. Drop the head and keep the neck relaxed while taking deep breaths. This will help stay still in the posture. 

Practice Tip

  1. Uttanasana must be practiced before or after a backward bending pose such as Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Chakrasana (wheel pose), Matsyasana (fish pose).
  2. Keep the legs straight. Only if hip flexibility is less, you can bend the knees a little bit to help you reach the mat. 
  3. Keep the spine straight. Do not let the spine curve. 

Bhujangasana, Matsyasana, Chakrasana

Shvasa Tips

  1. Consistent practice can help you improve your posture.
  2. Be gentle. The bend can be intense on the spine and hips so avoid any jerks or sudden movements. If unable to reach the mat, slowly try to go lower over a few days. Do not force yourself to bend more than you can. 
How To Practice Standing Forward fold
Shvasa Editorial Team

Vestibulum condimentum nisi vel dolor pretium, vitae auctor ante ultricies. Vestibulum non nisl lectus. Nulla egestas, eros id dictum malesuada, leo erat lacinia sem, at vestibulum diam tellus nec risus. Ut pulvinar quam et semper efficitur. Fusce a venenatis diam. Suspendisse congue feugiat nulla, vitae suscipit neque. Aenean mattis, justo quis rhoncus sagittis, tortor mi porttitor leo, in auctor diam diam a ex.

Practice yoga with the world's best teachers - LIVE
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.