Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
This pose gives an intense stretch to the spine and is practiced in two stages. Uttanasana is a gentle inversion where the head is lower than the heart. The brain becomes soothed, the heart rested, and the blood pressure is regulated. The nerves are calmed. Stomachaches are relieved, and the liver, spleen and kidneys are toned.
Stage 1 (concave spine):
1. Stand facing a chair or similar platform with the feet hip width apart, hands on the hips. Turn the toes slightly in. Tighten the front thighs to stabilize the knees and roll the thighs in so that the kneecaps face forward.
2. Keeping your front thighs firm, exhale and place your hands on the chair underneath the shoulders. Place the hands shoulder width apart, fingers pointing forward. Press your palms down to lift your chest and keep your arms straight.
3. Gently tilt your buttock bones up and stretch the back of your legs. Keep your legs perpendicular to the floor. Look up and make the entire spine concave. Keep your neck long and don't hunch the shoulders. Breathing evenly through the nose, loosen the muscles of your face and relax your eyes. Stay for up to one minute without straining. Those with backaches should do this first stage only.
MANOA YOGA CENTER
Lyn Flanigan, left, and Alison Sherwood, students of Manoa Yoga Center, show Stages 1 and 2 of Intense Stretch Pose.
Stage 2 (head down):
4. Keeping your legs straight, exhale and rest your forehead on the chair and place your hands on the floor. If this is difficult, put a height, such as a yoga block or a book, on the chair for your head to rest on. Breathe quietly, relax your temples and allow your mind to flow inward. Stay for up to two minutes.
5. Inhale, come back to Stage 1. To come out of the pose, re-grip the legs, take your hands to your hips, inhale and come up.
As you gain ease in the pose, you may use a lower height. However, if during Stage 1 the spine loses its concavity in any portion, you are not ready to go lower.
and Shelley Choy
are certified Iyengar Yoga teachers and co-direct the Manoa Yoga Center at Manoa Marketplace. Visit www.manoayoga.com
or call 382-3910. Manoa Yoga Center, the authors and the Star-Bulletin take no responsibility for any injury arising from the practice of these yoga postures. Readers should seek a doctor's approval before commencing this yoga practice.