How to Do Standing Forward Bend Pose in Yoga (Guide to Uttanasana)

When you start doing yoga, you encounter many poses you’ve never seen or done before. But for most people – the Standing Forward Bend pose is not one of them. It’s one of the first postures every student learns and is also a part of the stretching routine in many other activities. This position is also often used by physiotherapists for diagnostics.

What makes this pose so common are two things – it’s a natural, intuitive movement, and everyone can achieve it. It is also a fantastic transition and is used in Sun Salutation for that very reason.

The Standing Forward Bend pose is simple, but it’s also very beneficial. It allows us to stretch and release tension from our entire back body, including our hamstrings, calves, ankles, and lower back.

“Many people misinterpret the idea of the Standing Forward Bend pose. They believe the goal of the pose is to touch their feet with their hands,” says Yoga Answered contributor Sara Popovic. “However, that’s not even close to the truth. The literal translation of the Sanksrit name is “the intense stretch pose,” and that’s exactly the goal we want to achieve. Rather than forcing to touch the toes with our fingertips, we want to relax our body. The more we relax and surrender, the deeper and more purposeful our stretch will be.”

Standing Forward Bend Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana
Pose Type: Forward Bend Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Full Body
Benefits: The Standing Forward Bend pose stretches the spine, the back of the legs, hips, and ankles. It stimulates the kidneys and liver, aiding in detoxification. As a combination of a forward fold and inversion, it also helps to relieve stress, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Practice with bent knees if you want to relieve low back pain.
Preparatory Poses: Mountain pose, Standing Half Forward Bend, Seated Forward Bend

How to Do Standing Forward Bend Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in Mountain pose with your hands next to your hips and your feet about hip-width distance apart.
  2. Inhale and raise your arms, to extend your spine. With an exhalation, slightly bend your knees and fold the torso over the legs, initiating the movement from the hips, instead of lower back.
  3. Place your hands where they fall naturally – next to your feet, on the ground, or on your ankles or shins.
  4. Try to keep your hips over your heels and allow your head to hang, relaxing the neck. With every inhale, extend your chest and lengthen your spine further, and with every exhale try to relax fully.
  5. Once you’ve found the ideal version of the pose for you, hold it for a couple of breaths. Exit back into a standing position, or continue flowing into a low lunge pose or a Four-Limbed Staff pose if you’re practicing sun salutations.

Beginner’s Tip

Try to keep your torso long to avoid back injury and to feel the full benefit of the pose. Don’t hyperextend your knees – always leave a slight bend. If you want to fold deeper, try rotating your thighs to give your torso more space. To better understand proper alignment in this pose, aim to touch your thighs with your belly, instead pushing the head towards the knees or the hands towards the ground. Your belly doesn’t have to literally touch the thighs, but you’ll maintain correct form with this intention. Allow your body to naturally open up instead of pushing yourself into the pose.

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