When experiencing moments of stress, taking a few deep breath’s in a forward fold (Uttanasana ‘OOT-tan-AHS-anna’) will help calm the mind and body. Forward folds give the hamstrings and lumbar spine a deep stretch. By hanging upside down, fresh blood is brought to the brain and gives a refresh sense of well-being.
- From standing (Tadasana), inhale the arms over head; exhale hinge at the hips and fold forward over the legs.
- Hands may (a) come to a block, (b) the floor, (c) dangle, or (d) take a bind (yoga mudra or reverse namaste or ragdoll).
- If you have tight hamstrings, gluts or have pain in the low back, bend the knees and/or use a block. Keep legs hips distance apart or wider.
- If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), go into the pose slowly and carefully, staying only as long as your breath remains steady and easy.
- If you have low blood pressure (hypotension), come out of the pose very slowly, being cautious if you begin to feel dizzy.
- To deepen the stretch:
- On an inhale, draw the belly button towards the spine and lift the sit bones towards the sky; keep the legs strong and active, actively pressing the feet into the floor.
- On an exhale, release the spine and upper body, shake the head “yes” and “no” to release the neck, allowing gravity to do the work, letting the head be heavy and hang.
- On an inhale, half-way lift by placing the hands on the shins or thighs, press the hands into the legs while flattening the back, gently drawing the shoulder blades together and relax shoulders away from ears. Lengthen from the crown of the head, back towards the tailbone.
- On an exhale, release back into the fold, still hinging at the hips.
- Continue with steps 3-5 until you feel complete.
- To come out of the fold:
- Gently roll up, bone by bone, to standing, head and shoulders are last to come up.
- Press strongly into the legs, and rise up with a flat back, returning to Tadasana.
Here’s the audio version.