Yoga is a complete exercising of the mind, body, and soul. There are many levels of yoga, and a wide variety of poses that help you meet different exercise goals, including stretching techniques, posture building, and all-around general health.
Amongst beginner poses, the forward bend pose, also known as uttanasana, has a great reputation for thoroughly stretching the hamstrings, calves, hips, thighs, and knees. The forward bend pose also massages the internal organs and helps improve digestion. In addition to this, assuming the forward bend pose relaxes the nervous system and essentially calms the mind and can even reduce headaches and fatigue, making it a popular pose for yoga beginners, intermediates, and experts!
To assume the forward bend position, first you must begin in mountain pose, which is basically standing upright with your hands at your sides; head, neck, and spine should be aligned, and toes and heels must be firmly planted on the ground with all of your weight situated below your knees. Toes should be stretched out to help balance.
Moving with flow and ease, exhale and move forward into a bending shape from your hips. Balance the body weight by moving your tailbone and hips back ever so slightly as your upper body moves forward. Keep your knees soft so that your sitting bones point up toward the ceiling and do not put too much pressure on your knees. The forward bend pose is a very soothing pose, so there should never be an odd distribution of weight in any part of your body.
Inhale before moving your hands and on the exhale breath, rest your hands on the floor in front of you carefully or cross your arms and hold onto your elbows. Either of these styles is acceptable in assuming the forward bend pose. As you stand in this position and breathe in and out, make sure that the bend is coming from your hips and hip joints and that there is not too much pressure on your knees. If you feel too much pressure on your knees, loosen them.
Let your head dangle down toward the ground so that the crown of your head points directly to the floor; keep your gaze soft and directed between your legs. You can close your eyes if you like, but this can lead to dizziness.
Hold the forward bend position for several breaths and then slowly roll your body back up to mountain pose from the hip joints.