So many people are under the misconception that in order to do yoga, you need to be able to touch your toes. Of course, most people don’t start with the ability to reach all the way down, but with practice, you’ll find yourself getting a little closer with every practice. Standing forward fold, also called a standing forward bend, or uttanasana in Sanskrit, is a common pose in most yoga and fitness classes at the studio and is a great way to practice touching those toes!
Relieves stress, stimulates the liver and kidneys, and improves digestion. Stretches the legs and hips, strengthens the thighs and knees. Great for relieving anxiety and fatigue.
- Start in a standing position, tadasana, mountain pose. Make sure your feet are anywhere from touching to about hip-distance apart, and that your feet are more or less parallel to each other.
- Letting your breath guide you, raise your arms up towards the ceiling and take your gaze up towards your fingers. If you are warmed up enough, a backbend would be a great addition to this step.
- Bring your hands in towards your heart center in prayer as you dive forward towards your mat. Feel free to take your hands apart at any point.
- Keep your knees straight and make sure your feet stay parallel to maintain the position of your hips.
- Bring your hands to your mat, if possible, and let your gaze fall through your legs so that the top of your head is reaching towards the floor.
- Let every exhale bring your belly and chest a little bit closer to your legs.
- Alternate this pose with a standing half-forward fold, if you wish, otherwise the next step may be a rise back to standing or a step back into plank pose, as part of a vinyasa flow.
If pressing your hands to the mat is intimidating, and for new practitioners it can be terrifying, there are lots of ways to modify. Bring your hands to your shins, use a block under your hands, or just reach without stressing about how far away the ground is. Taking a bend in your knees is also a great way to modify this pose.
Make it harder:
Wrap your arms around the back of your legs as though you are giving yourself a hug. Pull your torso against your thighs as you literally fold yourself in half!