A graceful bow

Releasing internal tension, standing forward bend - called Uttanasana in Sanskrit - is considered to be stress relieving and relaxing. This pose lengthens your hamstrings and stretches your back, releasing compression and tension in the vertebrae (the small bones in your back), leaving you feeling calmer and rejuvenated.

Here’s how to get into the pose:

1    Stand tall and upright, feet hip-width apart with feet, knees and hips aligned. Take a few deep breaths, raising the crown of your head skywards. Allow your shoulders to relax down your back and your chest and heart to open forwards.

2   On an inhale raise your arms so they’re straight and skyward with palms facing each other. Take a few deep breaths, lengthening your spine upwards too.

3  On an exhale, fold forward from your hips (not your waist), and gently release your upper body so that it is relaxed in a hanging position. Bring your palms to rest on the floor beside your feet. To begin with you may fi nd that you need to bend your knees to maintain a straight back. You might also like to make use of a block to rest your hands on if you can’t quite reach the floor.

4  Take a few deep breaths in this position, explore how your body feels as you release and expand your vertebrae downwards, creating space in your spine. Allow gravity to take effect as you experience the weight of your torso getting heavier as it falls towards the floor.

5  To come out of the pose, on an inhale push down through your legs and, from your hips, slowly raise your upper torso vertebrae by vertebrae with your head coming up last. Find yourself in a standing position with your arms gently resting alongside your torso.

6  Take a few deep breaths here and observe the effect this asana has on your being, noting any new-found spaciousness within, a release of tension, or peace of mind.

As with all physical activities, please do not attempt this pose if you have any existing medical or physical conditions that may be aggravated – if you have any doubts talk to your GP.

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