Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold or Intense Stretch Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 8* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Stand in Tadasana. Engage your quadriceps to tighten your kneecaps.
  2. On an exhale, fold forward at your hips. Place your fingers on the floor. With your legs still straight, move your hands back until your palms approach the floor behind your heels.
  3. Lift your head and stretch your spine into extension - a concave, backbend-like position. Shift your hips and weight forward so that your hips are directly above your ankles.
  4. Remain in this shape for two deep breaths.
  5. On an exhale, fold forward and rest your head on your knees or shins.
  6. Take just a few breaths before exiting the way you entered.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar's leg bones are not vertical - his hips are somewhat behind his heels. This is not necessarily a problem, but for me, it increases strain and likelihood of hyperextension if overdone. By shifting my hips forward and allowing more weight to rest in the front of my feet, I distribute the stretch more evenly between my hamstrings and calves.