Disclaimers: Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regime. Never force a pose. Stop if you feel pain or intense discomfort. Yoga is meant to be yummy.
I love vinyasa yoga and I am obsessed with good alignment. This obsession doesn’t stem from a need for perfection, which would be very “un-yoga-like” of me, but from a passion for protecting the body from injury. Most bodies can safely practice yoga on a daily basis, but maintaining sound alignment is essential to your physical wellbeing. In this series, I will break down some common poses—explaining how to stay safe and fully enjoy each posture. Finally, remember to BREATHE consistently while practicing yoga to receive the full benefits of the practice … otherwise, you’re just stretching in Sanskrit. Today’s pose is Standing Forward Fold, or Uttanasana.
– Feet should be hip-distance apart, or where your feet would naturally land standing (people have a tendency to interpret “feet hip-distance apart” as meaning feet on the edges of your mat—this is much farther than the distance of your hips. To measure, you should be able to place both of your fists between your feet).
– Toes spread wide and gripping into the mat. Weight is evenly distributed throughout the feet.
– Engage uddiyanabandha, bringing the belly button in and up towards the spine. This will give you more space to fold forward. This is not an instruction to hold the breath. Continue to breathe fully.
– Maintain a generous bend in the knees, especially if this is one of your first forward folds of the day. If you have more flexibility and would like to go deeper, maintain a gentle bend in the knees.
– Hands can rest on thighs, shins, or on the mat below you. If you’d like, you can bring hands to opposite elbows and hang freely in your forward fold.
– Release any unnecessary tension in your neck and face. Shake the head “yes,” shake the head “no.” Then find stillness.
Practicing yoga on your own can be a ton of fun, but taking a class is a great way to explore new poses under the tutelage of a trained yoga instructor; check out MINT’s yoga offerings, here.