Ardha Uttanasana / half-intense stretch

(standing forward bend)

Take a chair and some yoga blocks (or large books) and a firm blanket (cotton if possible).

* Place blocks on to the chair seat at mid-thigh height and a neatly folded blanket on top.
* Face the chair seat with the back furthest from you.
* Place your hands on to the top of the chair’s back rest with palms facing one another, little finger side of the hand facing down.
* Step your feet back from the chair so that hips are above your ankles (ankles are fractionally farther back than your hips).
* Rest the forehead on the lift on the seat.
* Lift the knee caps up and pull the top of the thigh bones back.
* Pull the front body towards the chair in opposition to the legs.
* Keep the side ribs in and breast bone forwards.
* If the back is dipped and ribs jut towards the floor, make sure that the shoulders are not over stretched at the back.
* Ensure the little finger side of the hands are parallel to the floor.
* If the back is humped up towards the ceiling, increase the height of the lift (and chair back if possible).
* Stretch the front body forwards, legs backwards.
* Keep the outer hips in and inner groins up.
* Stay for 10 to 20 breaths.
* Come up by walking towards the chair.


The Buddha reminds us of the right approach in his famous metaphor of the raft from the Majjhima Nikaya.

In it, he describes a situation, where a man standing on the near shore, which is dangerous, needs to get to the far shore, which is safe.

There are no bridges or ferries so he builds a raft; it is not fancy, but adequate to get him across. Once on that far shore it has served its purpose, and a wise man leaves it where it is, without dragging it with him as an encumbrance.

— Buddha