Karuna Counseling’s Newsletter Articles

February 19, 2005

Yoga to Soothe the Mind

Adaptedfrom www.yogajournal.com

Uttanasana
(Standing Forward Bend )

Despite its name, which means “intense stretch” pose, Uttanasana will wake up your hamstrings and soothe your mind.

(OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend

Benefits

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces fatigue and anxiety
  • Relieves headache and insomnia
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility,
    osteoporosis, and sinusitis

Contraindications/Cautions

Back injury: Do this pose with bent knees, or perform Ardha Uttanasana (pronounced ARE-dah, ardha = half), with your hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to your torso, and arms parallel to the floor.

Step by Step

•Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.

• If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs
slightly inward.

• With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend.  In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly
with the breath.  Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.

• Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.

• Don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation
with a long front torso.

Modifications & Props

To increase the stretch on the backs of the legs, stand in the forward bend with the balls of your feet elevated an inch or more off the floor on a sand bag or thick book.

Variation

Padangusthasana (not to be confused with Supta
Padangusthasana
).

After bending forward, slide the index and middle finger of each hand in between the big toe and second toe of each foot. Then curl the fingers under the bottom and around the big toe and wrap your
thumb around your fingers. With an inhalation straighten your arms and lift your front torso away from your thighs, making your back as concave as possible. Hold for a few breaths, then exhale and lengthen down and forward, bending your elbows out to the sides.

Preparatory Poses

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