Uttanasana (from a wall to a chair)

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

  • Stand with your feet one of your feet’s length away from the wall (a little more if you have quite small feet for your height) and your back against the wall.
  • Place a flat-seated chair in front of you, turned so that the side faces you about six inches/15cm ahead of your toes.
  • Step your feet hip width apart, ensuring that your toes neither turn out nor in.
  • With the legs leaning back to the wall and the bottom remaining on it, extend forwards from the hip joints to place your hands on the chair.
  • Extend the anterior spine and take a few breaths until the body feels adjusted.
  • Stretch the arms out to the far edge of the seat and bring the head down onto the near edge, with the forehead comfortably supported.
  • Keep the back legs well supported by drawing them in towards the centre bones and pull up from the knees.
  • Remain until breath deepens, staying alert but cool and keeping a focus on space in the knees and anterior spine.
  • Come up using the chair to assist you and take a few breaths until any disorientation has passed.

FOCUS: Work on the breath and brain passivity. Lift the heels of the feet and extend further through waist using the release at the end of the out breath to assist. Keep armpits long, open front knee joints and narrow the space between head of thigh bones and gluteal creases as you descend the heels. Then, where confident, push into heels of hands, open armpits wider and extend through to the waist and from side ribs to hips, still breathing with the same focus.

Contraindications
Where reaching to the chair is difficult or feels forceful, raise the height of the seat with yoga blocks and a neatly folded blanket.

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— Oscar Wilde