Trying to listen to alignment cues in a yoga class and understanding the right positioning can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a complete beginner and simply trying to just keep up!  

That’s why every month I will break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips.

Continuing our series of standing poses, let’s take a look at Half Standing Forward Fold, also referred to as Ardha Uttanasana in Sanskrit.

Establishing the Foundation of the Pose

Yoga pose of the month
Begin in Uttanasana 
  • Begin in Uttanasana with feet hip distance apart and a slight bend in the knees.
  • Place the palms or fingertips on the mat or a block beside your feet or on the back of your calves.

Moving into the Pose

Yoga Pose of the month
Move into the pose 
  • On the inhale, raise the front of your torso away from your thighs straightening the arms, lifting the collarbones and sternum away from the floor
  • If hands were resting on the calves, bring them around to place lightly on the shins
  • Aim to extend the crown of the head forward and the tailbone away from you, bringing length to the spine. Keep a slight bend in the knees if you wish
  • Gaze slightly forwards, keeping length on all sides of the neck  
  • Keep your front thigh muscles engaged, but avoid locking the knees
  • Bring weight into the balls of the feet to align the hips over the ankles
  • If your back begins to round, bend the knees or raise the hands a little higher until you can straighten the spine

Maintaining the Pose

yoga pose of the month
Maintaining the pose 
  • Breathe in this pose
  • Direct your breath into any areas of tension or tightness
  • With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the torso 
  • Relax your shoulders away from your ears

Completing the Pose

Stay here for a couple of breaths before exhaling and releasing back into Uttanasana

yoga pose of the month
Benefits of the pose 

Benefits of the pose 

  • Stretches the front of the torso
  • Strengthens the back
  • Improves posture
  • Says hello to your hamstrings and calves

This can be a relaxing stretch when done correctly.  A nice modification is to do this pose with bent knees or 
resting the hands against the wall, or on the back of a chair with the arms parallel to the floor and the legs 
perpendicular to the torso.  If you are experiencing sciatica, widen the stance with heels turned outwards and if pregnant, widen the stance also and only fold forward as much as is comfortable.