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Deep hamstring and calf stretch: Uttanasana provides a deep stretch to the hamstrings and calves, improving flexibility and relieving tightness in the back of the legs. Spinal decompression and relaxation: The forward folding action in Uttanasana helps to decompress the spine and promote relaxation in the entire back, relieving tension and stress. Increased blood flow to the brain: The inversion aspect of Forward Fold allows for increased blood flow to the brain, providing it with fresh oxygen and nutrients. This can help improve mental clarity and focus. Lengthening and opening of the upper body: Forward Fold can help lengthen and open the shoulders, upper back, and neck, releasing tension in these areas and improving posture. Massage to the abdominal organs: The gentle compression of the abdomen in Uttanasana can provide a subtle massage to the digestive organs, promoting digestion and detoxification. Mild inversion facilitates improved blood circulation and oxygenation throughout the body.
Recent or chronic back injury: Individuals with recent or chronic back injuries, such as herniated discs or severe lower back pain, should approach forward folds with caution. Folding forward can place strain on the spine, and those with back issues may need to modify or avoid the pose altogether. High blood pressure: In some cases, folding forward can temporarily increase blood pressure. Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension should practice forward folds with caution or avoid them entirely. They can modify the pose by keeping the head elevated and the spine lengthened. Hamstring injury or strain: Individuals with acute or severe hamstring injuries or strains should be cautious with forward folds. The pose can place additional strain on the hamstrings, potentially exacerbating the injury. It's important to work within a pain-free range of motion and modify the pose as needed. Glaucoma: Some sources suggest that individuals with advanced stages of glaucoma should avoid forward folds due to the potential increase in intraocular pressure. However, others believe that the short duration of the pose may not have a significant impact. It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if you have glaucoma or any concerns about the pose's effect on eye pressure. Pregnancy: As pregnancy progresses, standing forward folds may become more challenging and uncomfortable due to the growing belly. Pregnant individuals should modify the pose by widening the stance or using props for support. It's crucial to listen to the body and avoid any compression or discomfort in the abdomen.
Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Stand with your feet hip-width apart, place your hands on your shins, and lengthen your spine. Keep your knees slightly bent and focus on creating length in your torso and spine. This pose provides a gentler stretch for the hamstrings and prepares the body for the full Forward Fold. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Start in a plank position, then lift your hips upward, pressing your hands and feet into the ground. Lengthen your spine and engage your core, creating an inverted "V" shape with your body. Downward Dog stretches the entire back body, including the hamstrings, calves, and shoulders, preparing them for the fold in Uttanasana. Supine Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back, extend one leg up towards the ceiling, and gently hold the back of the thigh or calf. This pose helps to lengthen and stretch the hamstrings before moving into a standing forward fold.
1 - Stand, feet around hip-width apart, 2 - Fold forward at the hips, bending the knees. 3 - Once folded start to straighten the legs to the point a stretch is felt at the back of them. 4 - Let your upper body hang. Relaxing your head and neck. "Spread the weight evenly through the feet.” “Focus on the stretch in the back of the legs, rather than trying to touch the ground with straight legs." "Feel the stability and activation in your leg muscles with the gentle bend in your knees." "Relax your shoulders away from your ears, creating space in the neck and upper back." "Allow your head and neck to hang, releasing any tension." "Soften your facial muscles and jaw, inviting a sense of ease throughout your entire body."
Deepening fold: While the student is in the fold, gently place one hand on their pelvis to stabilise them and the other hand on their upper back and offer a light press increasing the stretch for them by drawing them closer to their thighs. Neck and shoulder release: Gently tuck their head in if they are holding neck in extension. Massage the top of their shoulders to help them release any unnecessary tension from there too.
Standing Backbend: Stand back up, place your hands on your lower back, and gently arch your spine backward. This counterpose helps to open the front of the body extending hips and spine after doing the opposite.
"See the variations,
simple to complex"
Different arm variations offering different stretches for the arms and shoulders. Play with foot position, wider for inner thighs, cross legs for outer. Internally rotated toes in and externally toes out. Revolved Forward Fold (Parivrtta Uttanasana): From a regular forward fold, place one hand on the ground or a block and twist the other hand toward the ceiling. Adding a spinal twist and enhances the stretch in the hamstrings and outer hips. One-Legged Forward Fold / Standing Split (Eka Pada Uttanasana): Shift your weight onto one leg and lift the other leg straight back, folding forward over the standing leg. Increases stretch down the back of folded leg and works raised leg against gravity while challenging balance.
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