One of my personal favorite poses is uttanasana, or standing forward bend. A big reason I was drawn to yoga in the first place was because it relieved my constant back pain, and standing forward bend was a pose that sparked that relief. When I am in this pose it allows the back to stretch and really lengthens the spine. At times I can even feel the vertebrae pulling apart from each other and releasing built up tension.
Like downward facing dog, this is one of those poses that can be performed anywhere wearing just about anything. I find myself in this pose at various times during the day; after getting out of bed, getting out of the car or after standing long periods of time…this pose is an instant relief to lower back pain!
Standing Forward Bend (uttanasana)
Begin in tadasana, on an inhale take the arms up into the air reaching towards the sky. Then with the exhale begin to hinge at the hips coming forward while keeping the back and spine straight and lengthened. When you reach your edge keeping the back flat (as far as you are comfortable going), begin to let the body surrender and allow some curvature into the back and just let gravity take over. Work on straightening the legs, as a beginner you will probably want to keep a bend in the knees until your flexibility develops.
You can bring the hands to the ground on either sides of the feet or just let them hang letting the earths gravity pull you. It is also common to grab opposite elbows with the hands to focus the weight of the arms directly in front of you.
Ground down through the feet and bring the balance into the balls/soles of the feet. You will almost feel like you are going to fall forward, but this action will enable the legs to stay perpendicular to the torso. You should feel the stretch in the hamstrings, make sure the legs are working here.
Stay in the pose for about 30-60 seconds breathing through the nose steadily and then on the next inhale come back up to tadasana and reach the arms high in the air again. On the exhale let the arms fall to the sides and rest or take the arms back towards the ground and repeat the pose again.
Rejuvenates spinal nerves.
Slows heart rate.
Relieves stomach pain.
Known to remove depression when holding for 2 minutes or longer.