Standing Half Forward Bend (Sanskrit: Ardha Uttanasana)
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Suggested song to practice with: “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez (The Knife cover)
What it is:
Lengthening and strengthening the spine
Practice with Drishti (meditative gaze)
Play with hinging in the hips
Arms can be outstretched or placed gently on the fronts of the legs. If palms are on the legs, do not push into the leg with the palm, but rather use to assist with balance
Engage the muscles of the thighs, calves, and feet so as not to strain the back
Keep neck and spine in line
How to do it:
Stand in Tadasana (Standing Pose).
On an in-breath, arc the arms overhead to Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose).
Hinging from the hips and maintaining a flat back, exhale and lower the top half of the body so that it is parallel with the floor.
Roll the shoulders back, allowing the shoulder blades to flatten down the back ribs.
Either stretch the arms forward so that they are in line with the spine, or place the palms gently on the fronts of the legs.
Allow the hips to draw back and the crown of the head to draw forward, creating length in the spine and engaging the strength of the back and core muscles. Drop the gaze to a point on the mat (Drishti Gaze) so that the neck is straight and long, neither craning up to the sky nor dropping down to the floor.
Breathe into the belly and allow each in-breath to nourish the organs and each out-breath to cleanse the body.
To come out of this pose, either exhale and drop slowly into full Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), or inhale and bend the knees, lifting the body back to Tadasana.