Standing Forward Bend/Uttanasana
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Inhale as you stretch your arms above your head with your palms facing each other, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keeping the soles of the feet evenly pressed into the floor, arms swan diving to the floor.
Relax your head and neck toward the floor and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.
Place your palms on the floor on either side of your feet (you can begin with them in front of your feet and gradually move them to the sides as you become more flexible)
Exhale as you stretch the back of your legs and press your feet into the floor making sure your hips are directly above your knees and your knees are not locked (knees can be bent as much as is necessary to get the palms on the floor).
Inhale and either come high onto the fingertips/spinal extension or slide the hands up the shins, lengthen the spine away from the legs as the breast bone lengthens forward reaching with the heart, shoulders externally rotated and slowly look forward. The legs should be straight but not locked, micro bend which is hardly noticeable but healthy for the back.
Exhale and release down, Inhale reach out and up, Sequential exhales/inhales.
Stretches/lengthens the entire back of the body including the back of the legs and decompresses the neck. Increases circulation in the upper/lower torso. Improves digestion, stimulates the thyroid, parathyroids glands, liver, kidneys, tones the abdominal muscles, improves balance. The variations also stretch the adductors (insides of the thighs) and opens/releases the hips.
Can be used as a resting pose between other standing poses when folded forward.
Mental Benefits: has a calming effect on the body and mind, increases clarity. Relieves stress, anxiety or a mild depression.
Forgiving Limbs (slightly bent arms) are suggested if the shoulders warrant. Asymmetrical Forward Bend/Parshva Uttanasana,
Wide Angle Forward Bend/Prasarita Pada Uttanasana
Half-Standing Forward Bend/Ardha Uttanasana
Contra Indications: Acute hypertension, glaucoma, certain lower back conditions(such as herniated disk), headaches low blood pressure and pregnancy, If you become dizzy easily, be sure to come out of the pose very slowly lifting with the heart before the head. If the hamstrings are tight a slight bend of the knees is suggested.